by Ashley Jankowski
Are you tired, confused or just dehydrated?
Staying hydrated is an absolute necessity for a healthy, functioning body. According to the Institute of Medicine, being hydrated means drinking 2.7 liters (or about 92 ounces) of water per day. But if y’all haven’t noticed, summer has most certainly arrived; as the temp goes up, so should your water intake. Why is that the case?
Dehydration occurs when you’re losing more water than you’re taking in, which is way more likely to occur on a hot day. You know how it goes. Your day is jam-packed with summertime activities. You’re running from one place to the next in the sweltering heat. You packed everything in your possession into your oversize beach bag... everything but a damn water bottle. You’re moving; you’re sweating. Uh-oh. You very well may find yourself dehydrated without even realizing.
“There are three general causes of excess fluid loss,” Laguna Hills gastroenterologist Kevin H. Ashby told SheKnows. “Those include fluid losses from the skin, like sweat or losses from severe burns, losses from the kidneys due to use of water pills or rare kidney disorders and gastrointestinal losses from diarrhea, vomiting and rare severe bleeding.”
If any of these conditions apply to you this summer, you need to be on high patrol for the secret signs of dehydration.
How do you know if you’re dehydrated?
There are some signs of dehydration that you’ll feel right away. Besides being really freakin’ thirsty, oftentimes a low water intake will cause a sense of fatigue and dizziness with standing. You may also begin to get muscle cramps that make it difficult to move normally.
Other signs of dehydration are a bit sneakier. Feeling a little lost for words? According to Dr. Joel Bartlett, an internal medicine physician at the Orange Coast Medical Center in Fountain Valley, California, some of the lesser-known symptoms include confusion, weakness and speech difficulties.
Some of the more severe warnings include seizures or even becoming comatose. However, these are rare and occur after very long periods without liquid intake.
“These symptoms as a rule don't occur in isolation,” said Ashby. “Other more common symptoms of dehydration are very likely to be present.”
Rather than blaming any of these symptoms on the heat, stress or lack of sleep, get yourself some water while you can.
What do you do if you’re dehydrated?
The obvious answer here would be to drink water. But you can actually expedite this process by fueling up with electrolyte-fused beverages such as Gatorade, Pedialyte or Powerade.
If you’re nauseated or vomiting, Bartlett recommends "frequent sips," which means drinking a small amount every 30 to 60 minutes.
But if the symptoms don’t seem to be going away, it may be time to seek medical help.
“Your doctor can see signs of dehydration upon physical examination,” Ashby added. “These signs include dry mucous membranes (like the inside of your mouth), low blood pressure and decreased skin turgor, where the skin doesn't bounce back and rapidly flatten out when the skin is pinched.”
Besides ruining your sunny day, being dehydrated can have some serious long-term impacts on your body, including liver dysfunction and kidney injuries. So if you’re feeling unsure about your hydration, it might be best to get yourself to a doctor ASAP.
And how do you know if you are hydrated?
A good measurement would be the color of your urine. If you’re super-hydrated, it should be almost clear. If you find that it’s a bit darker in color, it may be time to chug.
You can also make personal efforts to keep track of how much you are drinking. For starters, you should be carrying your own reusable water bottle with you whenever you leave the house. Try counting the number of times you refill it. If you still struggle with keeping up with your water intake, try using an app like MyWater. With the click of a button, you can tally the total number of ounces of water, coffee, and tea that you down throughout the day and set notifications to remind you to keep on sippin’ on. As a bonus, the app allows you to track the water intake of your friends, family and children too — making sure everyone is kept safe this summer.