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Dehydration – Prevention Tips

Did you know that by the time you’re thirsty, you could already be dehydrated, having lost as much as one to two percent of your body’s water content?

Normally, our bodies gain fluid through food and drink and lose fluid through urination, sweating and other bodily functions. But if we lose more fluid than we take in, we can become dehydrated and start to experience stress, agitation, forgetfulness, headaches, dizziness, and fatigue just to name a few symptoms.

A dehydrated body sends thirst signals to the brain, and then the kidneys make sure that less water is lost in the urine.

In older adults, these functions may not work so well. Their bodies have less water to begin with; they have a reduced sense of thirst and decreased kidney function. And older adults may deliberately drink less to avoid bathroom trips, while others may avoid the struggle to reach, lift, and hold drinks.

In the UK, where dehydration has been recognized as being “far too common,” it has been noted that people have dramatic reductions in urinary, wound and hospital-acquired infections when adequately hydrated. They also have fewer falls and hospital admissions.

Experts say that a quick urine check could be the most effective way to tell how hydrated you are. Simply look at the colour of your urine. If it’s pale yellow, you’re hydrated. If it’s a darker yellow, it’s time for a glass of water.

How do we stay hydrated?

These simple steps from the Mayo Clinic can help you find a way that works.

Take notes: Track the beverages you drink, the foods you eat, and how you feel throughout the day.

Pick one method to try: There are many methods people use to drink more water. Start by picking one way and take notes to compare.

Keep it visible: Try bringing a water bottle with you when you leave the house. Or place reminder notes where you’ll see them.

Give it flavour: Try adding lemon or other fruit to sweeten your drink. It will add extra nutrients to your sip, which can boost your health beyond hydration.

Eat water-dense foods: As much as 20 percent of a person’s fluid intake can come from food. Try snacking on cut-up fruits and vegetables to boost yours.

Set a sip time: We are creatures of habit. Make it routine to take a drink of water before you start a new activity throughout the day.

Drink before you eat: Thirst is often misinterpreted as hunger, so this tip could even help slim waistlines.

Repay what you owe: You’re constantly losing water, so try taking small sips throughout the day and add a glass of water after any exercise or outdoor activities in the heat.

Focus on progress: After you’ve tried these strategies and some of your own, look through your notes. What do you notice? If a certain tip didn’t help,  adjust your plan and try again tomorrow.

Check out the Hydration Foundation for further information.