Dehydration

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Is it normal to feel more tired and achey after a long hot day? Are you more prone to headaches, swelling, and loss of appetite? You might be experiencing mild forms of dehydration.

Everyone has a higher need for water and fluids when the weather is hot although this June wasn’t really that hot until today.  It isn’t just water that’s important. Electrolytes, or salts, get depleted as much as water through sweat, urination, and bowel movements.

Your body can only absorb about one quart of water per hour. If you try to drink too much all at once, you will develop electrolyte problems. At its worst, you can develop seizures or even die. As an ER doctor, I saw patients who had overdosed on water and died.  A milder case would cause a headache, nausea, lightheadedness, muscle cramps, or diarrhea. You might also feel confused or unable to think clearly.

On a normal day, you get enough salts in your diet. The kidneys then balance the electrolytes by filtering at different rates. After extreme physical activity, if you are ill, or on a hot day, your body needs more fluids and electrolytes.

There are two levels of staying hydrated for good health. Make sure that you keep drinking the required daily amount of room temperature water even on days you think you aren’t sweating a lot. On days of extreme physical activity, have a camel back pack filled with water and electrolyte solution. Sip on it throughout the day.

The general rule of thumb is that you should drink eight glasses of water each day for proper nutrition. If you are a healthy adult that is okay. The average person needs to replace about 10 cups (2.4 liters) of fluid each day. To calculate your daily water requirement divide half your weight by eight (the size of an average glass of water). A 150 pound person would need nine and a half glasses of water per day. A 220 pound person would need about fourteen glasses per day. The sport bottles people often buy contain about four cups of water. Most people would need more than two bottles per day.

Gatorade is one well known electrolyte solution, which I think has too much sugar and chemicals in it. I usually recommend a drink called ReCharge by Knudsen – made of fruit juice instead of chemicals. You can get it in most health food stores and some grocery stores. You can also get other electrolyte solutions in powder form, such as EMerGenC to add to your water.

Dr. Fereydoon Batmanghelidj discovered the healing powers of water 21 years ago when he was serving time as a political prisoner in an Iranian jail. Water was the only medicine he had access to while in prison. Wouldn’t it be great if some of the illnesses you have could be prevented or treated by doing something as simple as drinking water properly?

 

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