Dehydration

It is early May and I can feel the heat. I feel dry and thirsty most days. My urine is dark and concentrated. That means I am losing more water than I take in. Most of the water I am losing is during exercise and walking 18 holes on a golf course on a hot day.

Where am losing my water from?

A healthy individual loses water from exposure to high environmental temperature or from strenuous exercise. If you are not well then you may lose water because you are on a diuretic, you may have diarrhea or fever and you may be a diabetic or have kidney problems.

Earliest symptoms of dehydration are thirst and decreased output of concentrated urine. Thirst is not always a reliable indicator of dehydration. Urinary output and concentration is more reliable. Dark coluored or amber urine indicates our body needs more water.

Skin has an important role to play in water and electrolyte balance. Skin is the largest organ of our body and protects us from environment. Skin is constantly exposed to sun, wind and other injuries.

Skin has a capacity to excrete fluid and electrolytes. It plays an important role in maintaining body temperature. When a person feels hot the blood vessels in the skin dilate and sweat secretion increases. The body loses heat by radiation from the large amount of blood circulating through the dilated blood vessels in the skin and by evaporation of sweat.

Sweat glands are found in almost every part of the skin. They normally release a little fluid all the time, and as this fluid evaporates, our body cools off. If we need to cool off then these glands can get stimulated to be more active. They secrete even more fluid and help us cool off more thanks to skin temperature nerve endings.

Oil glands (sebaceous glands) produce oil secretion known as sebum. The sebum spreads on the skin. It prevents excess water loss, lubricates and softens the skin and hair.

Mild dehydration can cause symptoms such as weakness, dizziness and fatigue. Severe dehydration is a life-threatening medical emergency. Mild to moderate dehydration can be corrected by consuming more fluids. Severe cases of dehydration require immediate medical treatment.

To prevent dehydration one must consume plenty of fluids and foods high in water. It is best to start this the day before strenuous exercise. Producing lots of clear, dilute urine is a good indication that you’re well hydrated. Drink two glasses of water before your exercise. During the physical activity, drink more fluids at regular intervals, and continue drinking water or other fluids after the physical activity is done.

As we get into warmer days, a bottle of water should become your good friend. Again, remember, don’t wait to feel thirsty. Prevent dehydration before it gets to you.

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