It’s always important to make sure that you’re drinking enough water to help avoid dehydration. This is especially true as the temperatures begin to climb during the hot and humid summer months.
Many times, your body will send signals that you need to drink more water. Here are some expert tips to realizing what your body is telling you, and suggestions for how to avoid dehydration so you can feel your best and fully enjoy the coming months.
Signs Of Dehydration: What To Look For
Being dehydrated involves more than just “feeling thirsty,” although thirst is one of the body’s ways of telling you to drink more water. Dehydration, if severe enough, can be extremely dangerous. If you’re severely dehydrated, you’re at a higher risk for heatstroke, exhaustion, and other heat-related illnesses. 1
If you’ve noticed dry skin on your lips, a dry mouth or throat, or even a tight feeling in your muscles, your body could be telling you to head to the fridge for a glass of water. Here are some other signs of dehydration:
- Feeling fatigued, confused, or even angry
- Dry eyes or blurry vision
- Muscle cramps
- Excessive sweating or a lack of sweat
- Dark-colored urine
- Fever or nausea 2
Tips To Avoid Dehydration
The good news is, avoiding dehydration involves a simple solution: oral rehydration. Drinking plenty of water or other liquids that have plenty of electrolytes is a sure-fire way to guarantee that dehydration doesn’t happen to you. 3
Here are a few more tips for monitoring your hydration status:
- Pay attention to any dehydration symptoms.
- Lower your alcohol consumption.
- Cut out (or lower) your intake of caffeinated beverages, like soda and coffee.
- Drink when you feel thirsty.
- Keep an eye on your urine output and urine color.
- Increase your intake of fluids and electrolytes (like sodium and potassium), especially after exercising.
- Eat hydrating foods, like fruits and vegetables. Melons, berries, and lettuce are solid choices. 4
When in doubt, water and electrolytes are some of the best ways to ensure your body’s rehydration. The next time you’re about to embark on a mid-day hike and you know the temperatures will be hot, be sure to pack a water bottle for the journey.
Watching Your Water Intake
So, making sure you’re consuming lots of water is necessary to stay properly hydrated. But how many ounces of water should you be drinking each day?
According to experts, adults should drink at least eight eight-ounce cups of water each day – or more. Some medical experts recommend that men drink up to 13 cups of water each day; women should consume at least nine cups daily. The amount of water intake for young children varies according to age. Those ranging from four to eight years old should drink 40 ounces each day (around five cups), and nine to 13-year-olds need at least seven to eight cups daily.5
Dehydration during pregnancy is a concern for expecting mothers. If you’re pregnant, your water intake should total 80 ounces or ten eight-ounce cups of water daily. Breastfeeding women need more than that at around 13 cups. 6 Check with your doctor to be sure you’re drinking enough water.
Staying properly hydrated has everything to do with drinking plenty of fluids, especially plenty of water. You may find that the urge to urinate will increase with your water consumption. This is completely normal, and it means that your body is doing its job.
The Body’s Ability To Hydrate
Not only does water help you feel great and stay hydrated, but it also helps your blood, urinary tract, and other bodily functions operate.
You lose water anytime you lose body fluids, like when you sweat, urinate, or even breathe; however, the body’s ability to hydrate has a bit of a lag. This means that by the time you feel incredibly dehydrated, your body’s been telling you to drink water for quite a while. The less water you drink, the more your kidneys will retain water, meaning you’ll urinate less. 7
When you drink water, you’re essentially keeping your body running. Water helps create saliva and flush out waste. It also helps regulate your body temperature, urine output, blood oxygen circulation, and more. 8
However, too much of a good thing is relevant when it comes to your water intake. Too much water can flood your body’s system, so be sure to keep your intake at the recommended amount.9
Hydrating Beyond The Summer Months
While it’s essential to hydrate during the heat of the summer months, hydrating is also imperative during colder temperatures, too. Making sure you’re getting plenty of water helps your skin from drying out and keeps you from developing hypothermia, which only highlights the importance of staying hydrated all year-round.10
Taking the time to cut extra sugary drinks and caffeine consumption is a great start to making sure you’re preventing dehydration. Diet is just as important, too, when it comes to your electrolyte levels. If you’re a part of a group that’s at risk for dehydration (i.e. older adults, infants, and young children), be sure that your water intake is where it needs to be.11
This summer, never leave home without a water bottle by your side or in your bag and be sure you’re drinking fluids as much as possible, even when you’re not thirsty. That might mean swapping out your favorite soda for a large glass of water while out with friends, increasing your potassium intake, or even cutting back a bit on your sodium intake. After all, there’s nothing worse than feeling sick while you’re trying to enjoy the great outdoors.
By following these tips to stay hydrated and active, keeping an eye on your urine output, and eating well, these next few months will shape up to be the best summer ever.