Wet Your Whistle
As a registered dietitian, I would like to think I know a lot about nutrition. But at the same time, I struggle with drinking enough water each day.
How about you? Because water is so simple and readily available, it is often overlooked when it comes to your health. Here are some fun facts about why we need to worry more about drinking enough.
First, your body is mostly made up of water. Our bodies use water for a whole host of reasons, such as regulating temperature, protecting organs and tissues and to help transport nutrients and oxygen around the body.
Second, you can only live a couple days without any type of water or hydration. In excessive heat during physically demanding work, you can actually die within hours if you become dehydrated and are not drinking any fluids. That’s especially important since now that summer is in full swing you are at a greater risk of becoming dehydrated.
So let’s test your knowledge first about dehydration. Then go over how to avoid it.
- How quickly can you become dehydrated in hot, humid weather?
- 15 minutes
- 30 Minutes
- 45 minutes
- 1 hour
- How often should you stop and drink during exercise or working outside?
- Every hour
- Every 2 hours
- Every 45 minutes
- Every 20 minutes
- Which drink will dehydrate you the most?
- Sugary punches and juices
- Which factor does NOT affect how much fluid you need?
- Your health/medical conditions
- You can tell you are hydrated if your urine looks like…
- Apple juice
- Which is not a sign of being dehydrated?
- Food cravings
- Muscle cramps
- Excessive sweating
- Around what percentage of people do not meet their daily fluid needs?
How do you think you did? Here are the answers: 1 – B, 2 – D, 3 – A, 4 – D, 5 – C, 6 – D, 7 – C
The best thing about dehydration is that it is completely preventable. All you have to do is make sure to drink enough fluids each day and replace fluids lost during any physical activity. The average adult needs 8 to 12 cups of fluids a day to stay hydrated (1 cup = 8 ounces). Children between the ages of 4 and 18 years old need 5 to 6 cups a day and children 1 to 3 years old need around 4 cups a day.
During the summer, you can become dehydrated quickly during hot and humid days. Signs you might be dehydrated include feeling thirsty, weakness, dry mouth, dizziness, feeling of racing or jumping heart (palpitations), confusion, fatigue/sluggishness, decreased urine output or decreased sweating.
To avoid becoming dehydrated while working outside or enjoying the warm weather, try to stop and drink every 20 minutes. It is best to stick with water and you should turn to sports drinks only if you have to be outside for a prolonged time (more than two hours) performing intensive physical activities.
While you should try to avoid becoming dehydrated, it is important to know its warning signs and when to seek medical care. Extreme dehydration can be deadly. If you or anyone you are with experiences a fever over 103 degrees F, confusion, seizure, difficulty or rapid breathing, rapid pulse or haven’t urinated in the past 12 hours, you should go to the nearest emergency room.
Emily Wilson is a registered and licensed dietitian at Owensboro Health Regional Hospital. She has her bachelor’s and master’s of science in dietetics from Ball State University. In the summer she loves spending time at Rough River Lake skiing, reading and relaxing.
This article originally appeared in the Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer.