Thirsty? Hungry? Shaky? Dizzy? It is possible that you are suffering from dehydration. Luckily, there is a simple solution. Water makes up more than half of the body's weight and aids in almost every bodily function.
But lack of adequate water can lead to many uncomfortable and dangerous situations. Water is lost from your body each day as a result of sweating, going to the bathroom and even breathing. Unpleasant experiences such as vomiting, diarrhea and excessive sweating can make the body more susceptible to dehydration. Warning signs of dehydration consist of - but are not limited to -dry mouth, abnormal sleepiness, confusion, extreme thirst, headaches, infrequent urination, constipation and lightheadedness. By the time you recognize these symptoms, it is a sign that you are already dehydrated.
There are many recommendations out there about how much water is needed to maintain a healthy level of hydration. The most common suggestion is to drink eight glasses of water per day. While these numbers may be OK approximations, it really depends on water intake, intensity of exercise, current climate and how much clothing is being worn. Do not wait to feel thirsty before reaching for that drink of water. Thirst implies an already present level of dehydration.
A common mistake is made by reaching for something other than water when dehydrated. The best thing for dehydration is to drink water. Sports drinks, soda, coffee and alcohol are not healthy alternatives because of their levels of sugar and caffeine.
Recent studies have proven that, surprisingly, water from the tap may be better for you than bottled water. In many locations, the tap water has more quality requirements than bottled water purchased at the store.
As the body ages, it becomes more vulnerable to dehydration. One of the tests that can be done on older people is to gently pull the skin up on the back of a hand and if it falls immediately, that is a sign of good hydration. If the skin stays pinched and does not lower immediately, that indicates dehydration.
Babies are another group particularly prone to dehydration. It can be challenging for babies to be able to communicate their dehydration, so a few signs to look for are dry skin or lips, tearless crying, dark yellow urine and rapid breathing. If there is any question as to whether a baby is dehydrated or not, err on the side of safety and take him or her to a doctor that day.
Water is not a magical cure-all, but it is definitely a major necessity in our lives.
Some of the ways that we can ensure continued hydration are by drinking water before, during and after working out, when going out to a restaurant (it's free and calorie-free), and when hungry.
Dehydration often presents itself in the body as a feeling of hunger. So if you have the munchies by mid afternoon, try drinking a glass or two of water. Chances are, it will suppress the urge to reach for a chocolate bar or a can of pop.
Do not fret that you need to give up the daily cups of coffee and occasional beers. Your life deserves a little kick start and excitement. But do remember that for every caffeinated or alcoholic beverage you consume, drink one full glass of water to maintain a healthy and hydrated body.
Robertson is a professional writing and communication graduate of Southwest Minnesota State University. She graduated from Devanadi Yoga School as a registered yoga teacher and teaches yoga classes at Marshall's Adult Community Center and the Marshall Area YMCA. Find out more about wellness and yoga classes at katerobertsonyoga.com Her column appears monthly in the Independent.