When we think of dehydration, we often think of a natural disaster or people who have almost no food and water available, but did you know that 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated? Research shows us that most Americans drink about 8 servings of hydrating beverages – which is enough, but only when you skip drinking caffeinated, or alcoholic drinks and eating products that contain high dosages of sodium. This isn’t the case, thus most of us are chronically dehydrated without knowing it.
What is dehydration?
Dehydration in the body occurs when you lose more fluid than you take in. When the percentage of fluid in the body decreases, it affects how your body functions. The body consists of two-thirds of water, making it a vital part of your body. It makes your skin look healthy, flushes out waste and other toxins, and lubricates the joints and eyes. Severe dehydration can cause dire consequences, like seizures and hypovolemic shock – especially when it is hot. Some at-risk groups may even die if they become (severely) dehydrated. At-risk groups include:
- Babies & infants, their low body weight makes them sensitive to fluid loss.
- Senior citizens, may be less aware that they need to keep drinking.
- People with chronic illnesses, like diabetes and kidney diseases.
- Athletes, may lose too much fluid through sweat when exercising.
What May Cause Dehydration?
You’ve already read that warm weather or other environmental factors can play a big part in why people get dehydrated, but these aren’t the only causes. Other causes include:
- Severe diarrhea
- Increased urination
- Taking medication
- High sodium diet
- Drinking alcohol or caffeine
- Lung or bladder infections
- Excessive sweating
Fortunately, there are ways to recognize if you – or a loved one – are dehydrated. Continue reading on the next page and find out, among others, what warning signs your body sends you!