Over 320 million people live in the United States, and a large number of those people may be chronically dehydrated. In fact, according to CBS, 75% of those Americans may suffer from dehydration to the point where it becomes problematic with everyday life. The shame is, it’s easily treatable, and prevention is definitely possible.
As we know, dehydration is a result of losing more bodily fluids than you are acquiring; it’s easily fixed by simply drinking more water, but prevention requires you to be diligent on what you eat and drink. As it is so easy to overlook dehydration, the aim of this article is to raise awareness of dehydration.
The symptoms of dehydration are very common, that it can be easy to overlook dehydration as a possible cause, and sometimes it’s even easier to simply shrug it off, and carry on. Some symptoms of dehydration include:
- Muscle cramps
The problem is, these problems are so common, that a large number of the population overlook dehydration as the problem, some even consulting their doctor. A doctor can perform blood tests to test for dehydration, but think about how much time and effort could have been saved, if the patient was properly informed on dehydration.
Dehydration tests, like urine and skin turgor tests, are easy to perform, and can be done at home without much effort at all.
In the peak of summer, particularly in the American South, temperatures can soar as high as 100 degrees Fahrenheit! The American South is not the only place which heats up, in many other areas humidity can make a place feel extremely hot, even if the actual temperature is comparatively low.
For many, these temperatures create ideal vacation destinations for overseas citizens, but visitors get to leave the heat eventually; think about those who live in the heat!
Facing high temperatures every day can cause a lot of sweat, particularly for the overweight and obese, which unfortunately are common problems in the United States, just like dehydration. These two factors combined can quickly lead to sweating, which eventually (if nothing is done about it) will lead to dehydration.
In heat related dehydration, there are several simple actions you can take. Staying out of the sun is step number one; instead, aim to stay in the shade or inside during the heat of the day (11am – 3pm), and don’t excessively exercise in the heat either.
In cases of states with high humidity, simply staying out of the sun won’t help, you may find that even in the shade, the heat persists. In these cases, you will need to take an active approach to cooling your body down, whether this is by sitting next to a fan, placing a cool, damp towel over yourself or drinking ice cold water.
If you are overweight, it is a good idea to exercise in the cooler months, when you won’t overheat or dehydrate yourself as easily. As mentioned, fat insulates body heat very effectively, so losing fat is not only good for your general health, but will reduce how much you sweat a little, therefore maintaining body fluid levels, of course you’ll still sweat whether you’re skinny or obese.
Travellers who are not accustomed to the extreme heat of America may find it overwhelming, so reading our tips and tricks to stay hydrated whilst travelling may help you keep your cool whilst the heat tries to keep you down.
Diet is another thing to take into account. There are a plethora of foods that not only hydrate you, but also dehydrate you too. It’s important to monitor your diet, and study what foods you are consuming to determine why you feel the way you do. It’s undeniable that sugar is abundant in America; it’s found in a lot of sugary foods like cakes, chocolate and sodas, but salt is also a big culprit.
What’s weird, is that we need these two minerals (amongst others) to hydrate effectively, so cutting them out altogether is not the answer. You need to monitor what foods you are eating; aim to eat plenty of fruit and vegetables, as these are full of water, and minerals like sugar and electrolytes which aid in hydration.
Finally, I saved the best one for last; drink water. If you’re concerned that you may be dehydrated, and you are reading this without a glass of water to hand, go get one!
We have been spoiled by the delicious taste of sugar, and that’s why many Americans choose a sugary can of pop over a refreshing glass of water. Other than sodas, caffeinated drinks like coffee, tea and energy drinks, and alcoholic beverages like beer, spirits and wines, are diuretics, which cause you to urinate frequently. Through this urination, there is a loss of bodily fluids and dehydration can occur.
Therefore, cutting these drinks out altogether isn’t the answer either. Again, it’s down to moderation. You can enjoy a morning cup of coffee, or a glass of wine with dinner, just make sure not to overdo it, and seek to replace the lost fluids and minerals in your body afterwards with appropriate amounts of water and healthy foods.
This dietary surveillance can also provide an effective proactive approach to weight loss; it’s not an overnight process though, so don’t be discouraged if you find it strenuous, or don’t feel the effects lighten immediately.