Hydration: Why it’s so important
Staying hydrated is always important, especially in the summer when temperatures rise and perspiration increases. Our bodies lose water through urination, intestines, skin and lungs and perspiration increases the water loss. Hydration is essential for good health and consuming water is necessary to keep the body’s systems functioning properly.
Water helps to:
- Maintain a normal body temperature
- Lubricate and cushion joints
- Protect the spinal cord and other sensitive tissues
- Eliminate wastes through urination, perspiration and bowel movements
- Absorb nutrients and carry nutrients and oxygen to cells
- Convert food to energy
- Flush out toxins so skin appears clearer
Ways to stay hydrated:
- Drink six to eight 8 oz. glasses of water each day. This is a general recommendation that may change based on age, chronic conditions and activity level.
- Bring a reusable water bottle to work and drink from it throughout the day.
- Drink water with meals.
- Fruits and vegetables including cucumbers, watermelon, strawberries, pineapple, tomatoes, celery, pears, grapefruit and lettuce can help with hydration because they contain a large percentage of water.
- Drink sports drinks with electrolytes and coconut water.
Know the signs: Avoid dehydration
Signs of mild to moderate dehydration:
- Feeling thirsty
- Dry or sticky mouth
- Headache or lightheadedness
- Fatigue or sleepiness (for children, being less active than usual)
- Less frequent urination
- Dark yellow or amber-colored urine (urine that is clear or pale yellow indicates you are well hydrated)
- Dry, cool skin
- Muscle cramps
Signs of severe dehydration:
- Not urinating, or very dark yellow or amber-colored urine
- Dry, shriveled skin
- Irritability or confusion
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Rapid heartbeat
- Rapid breathing
- Sunken eyes
- Shock (not enough blood flow through the body)
- Unconsciousness or delirium
Dehydration can range from mild to very serious, and it poses a major health risk. Water is essential to overall health. Don’t wait until symptoms of dehydration are present. Actively prevent dehydration by drinking plenty of water.
Health and Employee Wellness clinicians are available to discuss any questions or concerns regarding hydration.
By Ellen Connolly (HSE-HEW)