With the hottest months of the year stretching before us, risk for dehydration is at its highest.
Unfortunately, most adults fail to maintain an adequate level of hydration as they move through their day.
With that being said, dehydration can be either chronic or acute.
Acute dehydration occurs when the body’s tissues are severely deprived of water; electrolyte imbalances begin to manifest as the body struggles to perform even basic tasks, including temperature regulation, simple reasoning, and reaction.
Symptoms of acute dehydration include (but are not limited to): grogginess, lightheadedness, lack of urine production, lack of sweat production, dark urine, fatigue, confusion, and fainting.
Chronic dehydration occurs when an individual’s fluid consumption fails to meet their needs, with this pattern persisting over a prolonged period of time.
Many Americans live in a state of chronic dehydration, with studies showing that nearly 50% of children are chronically dehydrated, and nearly 75% of adults.
Symptoms of chronic dehydration include headaches, lapses in concentration, reduced reaction reaction time, impairments in learning and memory, and poor mood.
Hydration needs are very individual: the standard 64-ounce rule may work well for some individuals, or may be too much or too little for others.
Climate, age, activity level, medications, and health status all play a role in determining any one person’s fluid needs.
The average, moderately active woman typically requires 92 oz/day, the average man 124 oz.
In general, you are likely adequately hydrated if you feel alert, are not thirsty, and your urine registers pale yellow.
While any fluid counts towards daily hydration needs, it’s best to stick with plain water when possible, as many other beverages (even natural beverages) are high in Calories and sugar.
A recent study of American children found that the average child consumes more than 10% of their daily Calories from sugar-containing beverages alone.
Regardless of season, carrying a water bottle and making a point of drinking water during a meal can help create a habit of daily water consumption, reducing risk of acute or chronic dehydration.