By Megan Curtis, MD
Department of Family Practice
Reliant Medical Group
Although many of us look forward to the warmer months, the hot, humid days of summer can mean a higher risk of dehydration for some people.
Dehydration occurs when the loss of free water in the body is greater than its intake. Dehydration can interfere with normal bodily functions when it is severe, and be dangerous to your health. This year’s Covid-19 pandemic and recommendations that people wear face masks could deter some people from drinking the normal amount of water they need.
Older adults are at most risk for dehydration. As people age they retain less water in their bodies and are less likely to sense and respond to higher temperatures with adequate fluid consumption. That’s why it’s especially important to remind older adults to stay hydrated.
How Do You Know If You’re Dehydrated?
Some of the most common symptoms of dehydration are:
- Feeling very thirsty
- Dry mouth
- Urinating and sweating less than usual
- Dark-colored urine
- Dry skin
- Feeling tired
Young children and infants can also get dehydrated, but the signs and symptoms are different and may include:
- Dry mouth and tongue
- Crying without tears
- No wet diapers for three hours or more
- A high fever
- Being unusually sleepy or drowsy
- Eyes that look sunken
The best way to prevent dehydration is to make sure you take in the proper amount of fluids that your body needs. Here are some tips:
Drink water every day. Don’t skip your water! Consuming water is the best way to prevent dehydration. If you are having problems staying hydrated, your healthcare provider can guide you on how much water you need.
Consider sports drinks. If you are exercising in the heat and sweating heavily, sports drinks can be helpful as they help replenish the electrolytes your body loses.
Avoid drinks that contain sugar and caffeine. Beverages with sugar and caffeine can actually increase dehydration symptoms.
Don’t overdo it with alcoholic beverages. Alcohol is a diuretic, so it causes dehydration by causing you to lose more fluid through your renal system. You can become dehydrated very quickly drinking alcoholic beverages.
Drink extra fluids when the weather is hot. This can help prevent dehydration from starting. You should also drink extra fluids when you are sick, especially if you have a fever.
Remember that while dehydration is usually mild, it can be severe enough to be life-threatening. Be sure to get medical help right away if you have symptoms that include confusion, fainting, lack of urination, rapid heartbeat or rapid breathing.
About Megan Curtis, MD
Dr. Megan Curtis says that she always wanted to be a primary care physician. “My interest in preventative care led me into family medicine. I enjoy family medicine because it allows me to teach people about health and caring for themselves right from the start in childhood and throughout a patient’s life,” she explains. “I really enjoy the diversity of family medicine, including pediatric care, women’s health, addiction medicine...View profile View posts by this doctor