How much water do you consume daily? The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine determined that an adequate fluid intake is around 15.5 cups for men and 11.5 cups for women a day.
Not drinking nearly that amount? You aren't alone. Studies show that 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated. It affects between 17% to 28% of the adult population and is a frequent cause of hospital admissions.
Many people think that simply consuming more fluids will help their bodies become hydrated. But it's more than that. We put together this guide to help your body recover from dehydration as well as stay hydrated!
What is dehydration?
Dehydration occurs when your body doesn't have enough fluids to function normally due to you using or losing more fluid than you take in. If you don't replace lost fluids, you become dehydrated and can experience minor to life-threatening symptoms.
Everyone is at risk of becoming dehydrated. However, this condition is extremely dangerous for young children and older adults.
Symptoms of dehydration
Dehydration doesn't look the same in everyone. Symptoms can vary depending on the person and the severity of the condition.
Common symptoms of dehydration in children and adults include but are not limited to:
No tear production when crying
Decreased/ no urine output or dark-colored urine
Sunken eyes and cheeks
Dry skin that doesn't bounce back when pinched
Dry mouth and tongue
Sunken soft spot on top of the head
If left untreated, dehydration can lead to:
Decreased blood pressure (reduces oxygen to the tissues, which can be life-threatening)
Heat Injuries (heat exhaustion or heat stroke)
Kidney Problems (i.e., kidney stones, urinary tract infections, and kidney failure)
Causes of dehydration
Dehydration can be caused by something as simple as not drinking enough water or drinking too much filtered water without minerals. When we aren't feeling well and don't feel like eating or drinking, we are also at risk of dehydration.
Other causes of dehydration include:
Sudden and severe nausea and vomiting can cause dehydration because large amounts of fluid leave the body quickly without being replaced.
A fever - The higher your temperature gets, the greater the risk of dehydration. Fever combined with diarrhea and vomiting can cause you to become dehydrated much quicker.
Excessive sweating - When doing vigorous activity, especially in high temperatures, you sweat a lot more than normal.
Frequent urination - Uncontrolled diabetes, certain medications such as blood pressure medications and diuretics can cause you to urinate more often than usual.
Tips for recovering from dehydration
Drink Plenty of Fluids
This may seem like a given, but you need to replace fluids in your body if you are dehydrated. And while chugging a gallon of water may seem like a good idea, it's best to take small sips. Commit yourself to drinking at least ten glasses of water or other fluids.
Water is always best when it comes to hydrating, but these are also excellent options to increase your fluid intake:
Fresh fruit juice
(Coffee and alcoholic beverages not only don't count toward daily fluid intake but can make dehydration worse.)
Use an over-the-counter oral rehydration drink, like Pedialyte, for infants and children who have become dehydrated from diarrhea, vomiting, or fever. These drinks contain water and salts in specific proportions to replenish the body with fluids and electrolytes.
Experts recommend starting with about a teaspoon every one to five minutes and increase as tolerated. Using a syringe is sometimes easier for younger children. Older children can try diluted sports drinks. (1 part sports drink to 1 part water)
Sip on Coconut Water
Filled with potassium, calcium, and amino acids, coconut water is becoming increasingly popular for hydrating the body. Due to its high potassium levels and natural electrolytes, coconut water is even used in IV hydration. Coconut water is also a healthy alternative to sports drinks. Many athletes consume it before, during, and after training.
TIP! Look for brands that don't use additives, preservatives, and hidden sugars.
Eat High-Water Foods
Fruits and vegetables contain vitamins, minerals, and fibers our bodies need to be healthy. In addition, certain foods, such as leafy greens, melons, berries, and celery, are naturally high in water. Watermelon and cantaloupe, cucumbers and tomatoes all contain at least 90% water!
Try Oral Rehydration Salts
Rehydration salts can be found in most pharmacies and health stores. Your doctor may prescribe rehydration medication, like Normaltye, if you are experiencing diarrhea or other health issues that may cause dehydration.
These products combine a mix of electrolytes, glucose, and other nutrients that help restore your fluid balance and increase hydration levels.
IV Fluid Hydration
If the signs of dehydration do not resolve after sufficient fluids have been given or severe symptoms, it is crucial to seek medical advice.
Call your doctor or visit the nearest emergency room if you become severely dehydrated. You may need an IV fluid hydration, which can replace fluids lost through vomiting, diarrhea, and other health conditions.
Though common, dehydration can have life-threatening consequences if not corrected. Yes, drinking enough fluids is essential, but you need to drink quality fluids, amongst other things that positively impact your body.
Our bodies process fluids differently, depending on many variables. Therefore, water intake should be individualized. Check with your healthcare provider if you are not sure about the right amount for you.