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The truth about dehydration

If you are heading outdoors to enjoy some fun in the sun, remember to drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration.

“Dehydration occurs when more water moves out of your cells and body than you are actually taking in by drinking,” says Haley Robinson, a clinical dietitian with Piedmont Atlanta Hospital. “You lose water every day when you breathe, exhale, sweat, urinate and move your bowels. However, if you lose too much, your body is no longer balanced and can become dehydrated.”  

What causes dehydration

The most common cause of dehydration is not drinking enough water, says Robinson.  

You can also become dehydrated when your body loses too much fluid, which occurs when you sweat, exercise, develop a fever, vomit, or suffer from diarrhea.

Another cause of dehydration is diabetes.

“When your blood sugars are high, your body tries to get rid of excess sugar by increasing urine output,” says Robinson.  “This can cause excess water loss and dehydration.”

Symptoms of dehydration

The human body is 60 percent water, and even losing 1.5 percent of that water can cause mild dehydration, says Robinson.

Common symptoms of mild dehydration include increased thirst, weakness, decreased urine output, mild headaches and dry skin.

The color of your urine can also be an indicator of dehydration.

 “If your urine is deep yellow or amber, this could be a sign that you need to drink more water,” says Robinson.

If left untreated, dehydration can lead to serious complications including heat stroke, swelling in the brain, seizures, hypovolemic shock, kidney failure, coma, or death.

Tips to prevent dehydration

When you are out at the park, pool, or beach, follow these tips to prevent dehydration:

  • Sip small amounts of water throughout the day

  • Suck on ice chips

  • Eat popsicles

  • Drink electrolyte containing sports drinks

  • Always carry around a water bottle

  • Wear light-colored clothing

  • Carry around a portable/hand held fan

For more helpful, healthful tips, click here.

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