Effects of Dehydration

It can't be said often enough. Hydrate! Often.

The detrimental effects of dehydration can be severe as we get older.

We gradually lose our sense of thirst, and so aren't even aware of the severity of the lack of hydration.

While most understand that the effects of dehydration can mean medical complications, a new study shows that even mild dehydration can influence mood, energy levels and the ability to think clearly.

In other words, it interferes with your ability to concentrate. It makes you lethargic. It surely doesn't help with your mood.

The best advice I can give you today is this –

Don't wait for thirst to be your indicator for when to drink.

Experts say that once you're thirsty you're already affected by dehydration.

Dizziness, headache and fatigue may occur, along with elevated heart rates.

It doesn't matter if you just finished an hour of exercise or were simply resting on your couch – the detrimental effects of dehydration are the same.

The main message is that older adults need to stay hydrated at all times, not just during extreme heat, illness, exercise, but also when simply at rest.

Yet another reason for seniors to stay hydrated is the fact that chronic dehydration leads to premature aging.

Yes, we're getting older, but we don't need to rush it along, do we?

Just look at some of your peers. If their skin appears wrinkly and lifeless, there's a good chance they're chronically dehydrated.

It is common knowledge in medical circles that many seniors unknowingly suffer symptoms of dehydration.

Severe dehydration - along with elevated body temperature – sometimes results in older adults and the elderly dying suddenly during extreme hot weather.

What Leads to Dehydration?

There are several things that lead to the detrimental effects of dehydration -

  • Water loss exceeds water intake. This commonly is due to exercise or disease.
  • Consuming too much protein may lead to dehydration. (also see my article on protein)
  • Extreme heat
  • Fever, vomiting, diarrhea
  • Diabetes

Most people can tolerate some decrease in body water, but when the loss is more pronounced, the severity increases the risk of suffering that can range from fatigue and dizziness to deterioration of brain and bodily functions.

A loss of 15 to 25 percent of body water is usually fatal.

So, how much water and other liquids should you drink?

There isn't much risk when you drink water beyond your body's needs – if done in moderation – because you have your trusted kidneys. They will remove the excess through the urine.

I personally make sure to drink at least 3 liters (or 3 quarts) on days when I don't engage in much physical activity. As a long-distance runner however I have to assure my body of quite a bit more hydration.

I keep water bottles and glasses in every room as visual reminders. A bottle of water goes with me everywhere I go.

If you have any questions about what would be a good amount of beneficial liquids for your personal lifestyle, feel free to contact me.

Drink up. Water – it does a body good.

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