By Wilma Bedford
With the summer holidays at hand you run the risk of dehydrating, and this could have very serious consequences. The recommendation is eight glasses of water per day, but this is exactly what it is: a recommendation. Too much and too little could both be bad for you. Listen to your body: every individual’s needs are different according to circumstances. If you are physically active, do hard labour, work in the sun or lie on the beach and the climate will determine your fluid requirements.
Signs of dehydration
Dizziness: Blood pressure may drop, which causes dizziness.
Anxiousness may cause a dry mouth, but together with dizziness or a headache it is probably dehydration.
Urine: The colour is concentrated with a sharp smell. There is not enough fluid to eliminate waste. Even a 3% decrease in fluid will show in the urine.
Leg and stomach cramps are indicative of a change in electrolyte levels.
Skin quality: The skin feels dry and rough and regular skin lotion doesn’t help. Pinch the skin together and if it is slow to return to normal, it shows that the skin’s elasticity has been affected.
Bad breath: With insufficient saliva there is an overproduction of bacteria in the mouth.
Tiredness is the result of a build-up of lactic acid in the body.
Crying without tears in children and sunken eyes
Diarrhoea causes dehydration.
The body feels hot and the person sweats excessively.
Constipation: The colon loses elasticity and the stool is hard and painful.
How not to dehydrate
Prevention is better than hospitalisation and drip-treatment.
If you are exposed to the sun or work outside, drink more water and wear light clothes.
Drink sports beverages to restore electrolyte levels. Eat vegetables and fruit with a high water content, such as lettuce, celery, watermelon and raspberries.
Avoid beer and wine because they cause dehydration. For every 200 ml of beer you drink, 320 ml of urine is excreted. Alcohol also causes a decrease of the antidiuretic hormone, which absorbs water.
Also be especially alert to the activities and fluid intake of children.
Make sure that cats and dogs have free access to shade and water at all times.
A dehydrated animal is listless, with sunken eyes, the hind quarters can become paralysed and kidney failure could set in. Also provide shade, water and shelter against hot winds for caged birds.
Five Tell-Tale Signs That You Are Not Drinking Enough Water.
Kristic, Z. 2019 http://www.travelleisure.com