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Water is the most important nutrient the body absolutely needs in order to maintain life. Now that the summer months are here it is especially important to continuously keep drinking water, as it is very easy to become dehydrated in the heat. Dehydration can range from mild to severe and even deadly cases. It occurs when more fluids are lost from the body than fluids being taken in. When this occurs, the body loses its ability to function normally. In addition, dehydration also refers to a loss of electrolytes along with those fluids. Electrolytes help our bodies in many different ways, one way is that they allow our cells to generate energy. This allows our bodies to function normally and carry out tasks like maintaining blood flow throughout our vital organs (Wedro).

We lose water every day in the forms of water vapor when we exhale, sweating, urination, and bowel movements. Drinking substantial amounts of water throughout the day, even when not thirsty can easily replenish the water our body loses every day. Signs of mild dehydration include thirst, dry mouth, tiredness, decreased and/or dark colored urine, headache, dry skin, dizziness, and few or no tears when crying. Once mild dehydration has occurred, a person can treat themselves by drinking small amounts of fluids with electrolytes such as Gatorade or PowerAde. These types of beverages replenish the body of its fluids and electrolytes (“Dehydration: MedlinePlus”).

As the body loses more water moderate dehydration sets in causing symptoms to intensify and new ones to occur such as muscle cramps, nausea, vomiting, heart palpitations, weakness, and lightheadedness. The body does everything it can to maintain pumping blood normally to the internal organs as it begins to retract blood flow away from the skin in order to retain and use as little fluid as possible. After this, if the body still continues to experience water loss, severe dehydration occurs causing less blood flow throughout the body. This can cause restricted blood flow to the brain causing weakness and confusion. If dehydration continues to remain untreated coma, organ failure, and death eventually will occur (Wedro).

We are much more likely to become dehydrated in warmer weather. In addition, children and elderly are also those who are more likely to experience high amounts of water loss daily. According to Dr. Larry Kenney, a professor of physiology and kinesiology at Penn State University, “the people who are most at risk are the elderly, especially the frail elderly, and infants, because they have a really small body size in relation to their surface area, so they gain heat very quickly, plus they rely on other people for their hydration needs.” Dehydration can become very serious, and it is something that is easily avoidable – so remember to keep drinking even if you are not thirsty!

 

Sources:

“Dehydration: MedlinePlus.” MedlinePlus Trusted Health Information for You. U.S. National Library of Medicine, n.d. Web. 05 July 2017. <https://medlineplus.gov/dehydration.html>.

Kenney, Larry, and Jill Shockey. “To the Point: Summer Heat and Dehydration.” Penn State University. The Pennsylvania State University, 19 July 2006. Web. 05 July 2017. <http://news.psu.edu/story/202404/2006/07/19/point-summer-heat-and-dehydration>.

Wedro, Benjamin. “Dehydration: Symptoms, Signs, Headache & Other Reactions.” MedicineNet. Medicine Net, Inc, n.d. Web. 05 July 2017. <http://www.medicinenet.com/dehydration/article.htm>.