Hydration And Your Health
Water is essential to many bodily functions, including lubricating our joints and pumping blood. But it’s also responsible for so much more than that, which is why the advice to “drink 8 glasses a day” has become a familiar mantra in magazines and pop culture.
So what does it mean to be “hydrated”? Being hydrated simply means that your body has enough fluids to function properly. A quick way to tell if you’re drinking enough is to check the color of your urine. If it’s pale, you’re probably fine. If it’s dark, you may be dehydrated.
What is dehydration?
Dehydration occurs when you don’t consume enough fluids for your body’s needs. This can lead to health complications ranging from mild, such as lightheadedness or dizziness, to more severe such as urinary tract infections (UTIs), heat stroke, , or even kidney failure. Since dehydration affects the health of your cells, it can also lower your body’s ability to ward off infections and heal from injury or illness.
Why dehydration is more likely to affect older adults.
There are many reasons why older people are more prone to dehydration. Appetite and thirst generally diminish with age, so older adults have less of an urge to drink. For people with mobility limitations, another common issue, just walking to the kitchen to get a glass of water may be too challenging, so they must depend on others for access to water. Underlying medical problems may also impact a person’s fluid status. For example, people with challenges related to urinary incontinence may be less willing to drink water for fear of worsening the underlying condition. And finally, many different medications may impact fluid status and cause dehydration. For all of these reasons, monitoring your water intake on a regular basis is important for your health and wellbeing.
Symptoms of dehydration.
Many older adults don’t feel thirsty until after they’re already dehydrated. It’s important to increase water intake during hot weather, when you’re ill, and while doing any physically strenuous activities. Some symptoms of dehydration may differ depending on your age but some of the more obvious signs to look out for are:
- Extreme thirst
- Less frequent urination
- Dark-colored urine
How much water do you need to stay hydrated?
There are many different views regarding how much water you should drink everyday. However, a general rule of thumb is to divide your weight by three and then drink that amount in ounces throughout your day. For example, a person weighing 165 pounds would need 55 ounces of water a day, which is equal to about 7 glasses of water.
It is important to recognize that certain medical conditions or medications may impact the amount of water that is right for you. Your doctor will be more than happy to discuss how much water you should be drinking daily.
Make healthy habits!
- Keep water with you at all times.
- Include foods with a high water content in your daily diet.
- Reduce your alcohol intake.
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