As the weather gets hotter this summer and you may be spending more time outside, you might run into a day where you’re sweating a lot and super parched. You might as yourself, “Am I dehydrated?”, knowing it can be harmful.
Optimal hydration is essential to maximizing performance but is also essential for health and safety. It is important to know the signs and symptoms of dehydration and how to prevent it. In this blog post, we’ll explore some simple but effective ways to prevent dehydration and keep your body properly hydrated.
Whether you’re an athlete, a busy professional, or just looking to improve your health, these tips will help you stay hydrated and healthy.
What is Dehydration?
Dehydration is a common condition that occurs when the body loses more fluid than it takes in. It can happen for a variety of reasons, such as not drinking enough water, excessive sweating, vomiting, or diarrhea.
Therefore, it’s crucial to know how to prevent dehydration and recognize the signs of dehydration when they occur.
Signs of Dehydration
Dehydration can lead to a range of symptoms, including headaches, fatigue, dizziness, and even fainting. In severe cases, it can be life-threatening.
There are many easy signs of dehydration to pick out, but dehydration affects everything in our body. This reiterates the importance of being able to pick out the warning signs and symptoms of dehydration.
The physical symptoms of dehydration are the easiest to see and feel. Some common ones include:
- Feeling thirsty all the time
- Dry mouth
- Dark colored urine
- Less frequent urination
Dehydration also can affect our mental state due to the lack of fluid for our brains to work! Without adequate water intake, we may see symptoms of:
- Balance problems
When people are hungry, they may get to a term called “hangry” where they are hungry and angry. It is the same for dehydration! Without proper hydration, you may struggle with:
- Extreme fatigue
How to Prevent Dehydration
Now that you know what to look out for, there are ways to prevent dehydration. Here is what I recommend below!
While this may feel like a no-brainer, it is so important to be drinking water consistently throughout the day. Spacing out your fluid intake (and staying up with it) throughout the day is the best way to decrease your chance of dehydration.
Using a reusable water bottle that you can take everywhere will make drinking more convenient and trying to take a couple of sips every 10-15 minutes will help keep up your water intake.
Proper Hydration During Training
When you are training, especially outside, it is important to consider how much water you need to consume and how you should time it out. When training, you need to start hydrating before you start training, and that doesn’t mean chugging water right before! It is also important to be sipping on water throughout training and replacing all your losses post-training.
When you sweat, you don’t just lose water; you also lose electrolytes. In our sweat, we lose five electrolytes, with the major ones being sodium and chloride, which make salt. Including electrolyte packets or sodium-containing drinks replenishes the losses you may have had during training.
The type of electrolyte drink or package you choose is different for everybody and I break all of my favorite ones down in this Sports Drink comparison blog. I think the big thing to remember is you lose both water AND salt when you sweat, meaning both need to be replaced in your rehydration plan.
Risks of Dehydration
If you do not work to correct dehydration, serious complications can occur. Our bodies need water to survive and function properly so without adequate amounts of it, a lot can go wrong.
Some risks that come with dehydration include:
- Heat injury as serious as heat stroke
- Urinary tract infections
- Kidney stones
- Seizures (from lack of electrolytes)
- Low blood pressure (to the point of hospitalization depending on severity)
So, as you can see hydration is important! It is the easiest way to make sure you are on your A-game since so many things are affected by it.
Dehydration occurs when your water intake doesn’t match your water losses, and it has symptoms that can affect you physically, mentally, and emotionally.
The easiest way to prevent dehydration is to constantly drink water and center your hydration strategy around training. It is also important to include electrolytes since we lose mainly sodium in our sweat. Dehydration can have many effects and some can be serious enough to cause hospitalizations.
Hydration, electrolytes, and other things are regularly discussed with my athletes in the Performance Fueling Club (PFC). PFC is an online sports nutrition coaching program that helps athletes with flexible on-demand content and live nutrition coaching with a sports dietitian.
I encourage you to sign up today to learn how to hydrate properly. We currently have open enrollment, and I am here to help you accomplish your goals.