We are about to head into a long, scorching summer with predictions of extreme heatwaves on the horizon. Although dehydration is a risk in the hot months, it can occur at any time.
How will you keep yourself from dehydrating?
1. Keep Well Hydrated
Well, that might seem obvious! We all know to drink plenty of fluids, however what is essential is the type of fluid you are drinking. We should make sure to have hydrating fluids such as water, juice and herbal teas.
Avoiding fluids such as soft drinks and alcohol. These are dehydrating fluids. There is debate about coffee and tea, so think in terms of moderation being key. Best to stick with known hydrating fluids such as water.
If you are an active person or perspire profusely, you will need to ensure you replenish your body regularly throughout the day with sufficient fluid to avoid dehydration. If you are feeling very parched, this is a good sign that you are in need of some water.
Check out the link to Qld Health to find out just how much water you should be drinking.
2. Be vigilant for the tell-tale signs
If you are experiencing light-headedness or dizziness, it could spell that you have had a drop in blood pressure from dehydration.
The result shall be that you feel lightheaded as you stand up. The more dehydrated you become, you may notice your breathing and heart rate increase.
It may be possible for you to faint or in cases of severe dehydration you may become confused, slipping into delirium and potentially even fall unconscious. Your heart rate may be elevated.
A sign you have inadequate fluid in the bloodstream.
3. Keep yourself well-protected for the environment.
So what does that mean? You may lose fluid in different ways. For example, if you have attended a ‘Hot Yoga’ session, you would expect to lose more fluid during a session. If you work in an outdoor environment, such as a traffic controller, who is working 8 hours on a very hot day, work in a manufacturing environment, where the work is labour intensive or maybe is just as simple as a longer period of sunbaking around your pool.
In any case, it pays to understand your environment and whether you have the right protection. Have you brought water with you? (and enough water with you?). Do you have a hat, suitable clothing, access to shade? – all these factors help to keep you protected from dehydration.
4. Look into the loo!
What! How does the colour of your urine look? Yes, I want you to take a look! Is it very dark yellow or even turning a brown colour? Is it a bit off smelling? Ever seen Urine charts posted to the back of a toilet cubicle about it? Take a closer look next time, a very easy guide to see just how dehydrated you are.
It is simple, the darker your urine colour, the more dehydrated you are. You may have even started to notice you are developing some early symptoms, such as a headache at the earliest stage of dehydration.
If there is very little urine output, then that is a sure sign that you are dehydrated too.
Do be mindful that if you have been taking certain medications, eaten certain foods or even taken Vitamin supplements such as Berocca or Vitamin C, it may change the colour of your urine.
5. Have a glass of water before opting to eat
Sometimes the brain will misinterpret the signal for thirst, for the need to eat. When you are not drinking enough water, the dehydration sends a mixed signal to the brain that it is hungry.
Naturally people reach for food, often a snack. If you are hungry, you will feel hunger pangs. An easy fix for this is to drink a glass of water first, wait 20 minutes and see if you are really hungry after this time.
If you are, then go ahead and have that snack!
6. Taking care of yourself after an illness
A fast way to dehydrate can be after experiencing an illness such as vomiting and diarrhoea.
Keeping your hydration levels up is important during any period of prolonged illness. Best to go with small amounts of fluid (water), however more frequently. Contact your doctor or pharmacist for advice in these situations.
7. Eat your fruit and vegies!
We all know it’s good for us! – go for your 2 and 5 (2 fruit and 5 vegies ratio is the recommended daily dietary intake). This is important for general health and well-being, however what you might not know is that your fruit and vegies hold a significant amount of water.
This is essential to keep up your overall fluid intake. If your intake of your fruit and veg is low, you should be drinking more water to compensate and avoid dehydration.
8. Don’t ignore other symptoms
Have you ever experienced muscle spasms or muscle cramps? Think about what preceded this? Was it related to a big workout at the gym, a long run, a hard laborious day at work?
Muscle spasms or muscle cramps can occur when there is a depletion of sodium and potassium. Essentially this happens from a loss of electrolytes (occurs with dehydration). Take a good look at your habits and what you can do to better manage your well-being.
9. Poke yourself
Have you ever been to the doctors and they poke at your skin to test its response/elasticity? The reason they do this is to see if your skin responds by bouncing back or does it remain indented? If it doesn’t bounce back, it may indicate dehydration. Connect with your own body and senses, as a quick way to check how your hydration levels are tracking.
10. Keep a check on your Toileting habits
Sounds a little gross, however ask yourself what’s going on in the bathroom! Are you drinking the right amount of water combined with the eating the appropriate amount of fruit and vegies?
Constipation can be a sign that you are simply not drinking enough water. Maybe time for an overall well-being review?
11. Mirror Mirror on the wall - Pucker up!
Take a good, long look in the mirror - how are your lips looking? How does your mouth feel? Dry? Lips looking a bit chapped?
This could be a sign of dehydration. Time to have a glass of water. Have a look at your kids, what are their lips looking like? A quick sign of insufficient water intake is the dry and chapped lips and dry mouth. Be extra observant.
Dehydration can happen at any time; however, we need to even more vigilant in the hot weather, particularly during heatwaves. The elderly and the very young are the most vulnerable. (Keep an eye on your pets too!).
Be sure to share these tips on how to stay well hydrated and spot the signs early to keep you well.
Keep an eye out for our First Aid hacks on how to treat for mild and severe dehydration on our social media pages.