How to prevent dehydration
Stay hydrated this summer with Dr Mark Baldwin's top tips.
As you know, your body is mainly made up of water. In order to stay hydrated, you need to constantly replenish fluid – more so in summer, when you’re sweating. And beware new year reveller: alcohol hits fast-forward on your body’s dehydrate remote, so you’ll want to dose up.
Care factor? It’s not just the dry mouth and rank breath – even mild dehydration can cause difficulty concentrating, tiredness, headaches and nausea. At the pointy end, severe dehydration can cause kidney damage and seizures. “Kidneys can fail, and brain swelling can cause confusion, drowsiness, seizures and even death,” says Brisbane emergency physician Dr Mark Baldwin.
Good news: it’s easy to prevent dehydration. While you certainly don’t need to steer clear of the activities that sap you of fluid (think running on the beach, or sweating it out in the sauna), be aware of how much more you then need to drink to make up for your losses.
“The best approach [to avoid dehydration] is to ensure regular water intake,” says Dr Baldwin. He says what you choose to drink is less important. He notes that drinks that contain water, salt and sugar are ideal for when you’re very sick, as the water is best absorbed that way. However, he says, “Healthy people absorb water well without needing the additives – [so] you don’t need…sport drinks. Very few of us need to drink water laced with glucose [sugar].”
If you’re worried about dehydration, it’s really important to see a doctor to get properly assessed and treated. In some cases this may mean simply being encouraged to drink more. Dr Baldwin advises drinking small sips of fluid often. “Even 50 to 100ml every 10 to 20 minutes can help you make a start on replacing that missing water,” he says. If you can’t keep fluid down, or you’re feeling sick, head to hospital to get your much-needed fluid through a drip.
Did you know?
You’ve heard of hangry (hungry-angry), right? Now meet dangry (dehydrated-angry). Lack of fluid can make you super cranky. According to recent research at the University of Connecticut’s Human Performance Laboratory, even mild dehydration can affect your mood. So instead of blaming your temper on your housemate’s nitpicky text messages, top up and see if it cools your head, too.