The Danger of Dehydration

Re-Blogged From Newsmax Health

A recent Canadian heat wave, in which over 70 people perished, drives home the point  summertime can wreak havoc with your health. As the temperatures soar, so do the numbers of patients admitted to medical centers for dehydration, fatigue, and heatstroke.

According to the Institute of Medicine, although we know perfectly well water is the way to go to prevent dehydration, 75 percent of Americans consume far below the recommended daily minimum, regardless of the season.

Sixty percent of our bodies is composed of water, 75 percent is in our muscles, 85 percent is in our brains – so water is like oil to a machine, experts say.

“Dehydration means you have a negative fluid balance in your body — you’ve lost more water than you’ve taken in,” explains Dr. Robert G. Silverman, D.C., who has a private practice in White Plains, New York, and holds a Masters of Science degree in human nutrition.

Silverman tells Newsmax dehydration can be deadly if left untreated.

“Mild dehydration is common and easily treated simply by drinking plain water,” he says. “If you get badly dehydrated, however, you might need an IV to replace lost fluids and get your electrolytes back into balance. If more severe dehydration isn’t treated promptly, it can cause fainting, low blood pressure, heart palpitations, dizziness, and decreased urine output. Severe dehydration can even lead to death from kidney failure or cardiac arrest.

“If you have diabetes, getting dehydrated can raise your blood sugar to dangerously high levels. Fortunately, if dehydration is treated promptly, a quick and complete recovery is very likely.”

The causes of this condition can vary, the expert says.

“In hot weather, dehydration is usually from sweating a lot, especially if you’re also being active,” Silverman says. “At any time, you can become dehydrated from vomiting, having diarrhea, being hung over, or just not drinking enough. If you have diabetes, you may become dehydrated if you get sick with something like a stomach bug. A high fever can also dehydrate you.”

Look for the first signs of dehydration to avoid complications. The most common symptoms of mild dehydration are feeling thirsty or having a dry mouth — your body’s natural reminders to have something to drink. If you get more dehydrated, your skin might be flushed and you might feel light-headed or a bit nauseous.

‘More serious dehydration symptoms include dizziness, fatigue, weakness, mental confusion, and fainting. Even more serious are the inability to sweat and decreased urination or no urination at all,” says Silverman, the author of “Inside/Out Health: A revolutionary Approach to Your Body.”

The best way to treat dehydration is to avoid it by drinking plenty of plain water, especially in hot weather.

“Store your water where it will do the most good: in your stomach. If you know you’re going to be active, drink at least 8 ounces of plain water an hour before any activity,” the doctor advises. “Take regular water breaks during the activity, and drink at least 8 ounces of plain water each time. Avoid drinks with caffeine (coffee, tea, cola, Mountain Dew), sweetened drinks, and carbonated drinks.”

As a rule of thumb, over the course of a day in hot weather, or when you are physically active and sweating a lot, drink one ounce of water per pound of body weight.

“Listen to your body,” Silverman says. “If you feel thirsty, you’re already dehydrated.”

Water or unsweetened fruit juice diluted 50 percent with water is the best treatment for mild dehydration. For more serious dehydration, a sports drink like Gatorade can help replace lost electrolytes and fluid.

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