If you’re concerned about your health, or even simply your day to day wellbeing, there’s no more important issue than hydration. It’s even more important if you’re caring for children or older people – those who are less likely to notice or take action when they’re slipping into a dehydrated state.
Today we’re taking a look at some of those dehydration worries so you can face them with confidence.
When Are You Dehydrated?
It’s important to watch for the signs of dehydration. Naturally enough, thirst will be the first indicator but if you don’t take a drink then you’ll see the symptoms intensify. You’ll experience a dry mouth, headaches, muscle aches, difficulty concentrating, even dizziness, sickness and mood swings.
If you’re worried about someone else being dehydrated, you might be wondering ‘how do you test for dehydration?’. If you think someone may be dehydrated, there’s an easy way to check. Pinch the skin on the back of their hand. If it springs back quickly, they’re likely well hydrated. If it’s slack and takes longer, that can be a strong indicator for low hydration levels and you need to take action.
Causes of Dehydration
While your body’s always using and depleting fluid levels, there are some times you need to be aware of that put extra stress on your reserves. When you’re working out (or doing hard physical work), when you’re ill, when the weather is especially hot or when the weather is especially cold.
When it’s hot or when you’re pushing your body hard (or both), then you perspire to cool down – this depletes your fluid reserves surprisingly quickly. When you’re ill, fevers, vomiting and diarrhea can all deplete your fluid reserves – and you’re likely to be lacking in energy a little and less likely to take the trouble to rehydrate. And in cold weather? Your sense of thirst can be dampened, which can allow dehydration to get a grip much faster than in the summer.
It’s important to remember that rehydrating isn’t just about fluids. When you dehydrate you also lose the salts dissolved in your body’s water reserves: your electrolytes. These serve many important functions in your body, helping to transmit messages from your brain to your muscles, helping with fluid balance, even ensuring a regular heartbeat.
When you’re rehydrating you have to think about your electrolytes, not just water. Try isotonic sports drinks or rehydration sachets from the chemist. These all contain a mix of salts and sugar that can rehydrate you fully, not just top your fluide levels.