Dehydration—the term given to the depletion of water levels within the body—can make you feel rotten. It can also have a serious impact on the body, which cannot be reversed simply by drinking a glass or two of water.
Close to three-quarters of the human body consists of water. For the average adult, this amounts to about 12 gallons. Each day, we lose close to three litres of this water through breathing and perspiration. When the weather is hot, or during physical activity, we sweat more, making it doubly important to drink enough water to replace lost fluids.
Emergency staff in medical centres and hospitals are well aware of the importance of staying hydrated. As soon as the weather turns hot, emergency rooms fill up with adults and children who have become dehydrated. In almost all cases, the condition could have been prevented had the sufferer simply drunk enough water.
Hydration and physical activity
Being physically active on hot days poses a high risk for dehydration. Ensuring you drink enough water during physical activity is therefore vitally important.
The most serious effect of dehydration is the inability to perspire adequately. During physical activity, the body generates heat. To maintain the correct temperature, it depends of the evaporation of sweat from the skin’s surface, which has a cooling effect. In fact, 80 per cent of heat loss is achieved through the process of perspiration.
The water you lose through sweating comes from blood plasma—the fluid in which red blood cells flow around the body. These cells transport the oxygen needed for your muscles to perform properly. If you become dehydrated, your total blood volume is reduced, and your blood’s ability to transport vital oxygen is compromised.
Are you dehydrated?
You may have heard it said that thirst is a good sign that you need to drink something! This isn’t strictly true as the sensation of thirst is the result of your body already being dehydrated.
The following signs indicate that you are likely suffering from dehydration:
- Your mouth and tongue feel dry
- Your muscles are cramping
- You feel weak and nauseous
- Your urine is reduced and a bright yellow colour
- You have difficulty concentrating
- You have a headache
Travel: Retaining fluids with Hydralyte™
A number of factors contribute to dehydration when travelling/ vacationing. These include travellers’ diarrhea; increased sun exposure; increased levels of activity or exercise (hiking, surfing, diving, rock climbing, skiing, snowboarding, summer walking tours, etc.); increased alcohol intake; vomiting due to foreign food or beverage-borne bacteria or motion sickness, and the lowhumidity cabin conditions associated with longhaul flights.
Dehydration, and its dangerous side effects, can best be prevented by drinking more water (bottled, if you are vacationing in a foreign destination) and taking one or more Hydralyte™ products with you. Although oral rehydration formulas are often available in local pharmacies, Health Canada suggests that they be carried with you. This is a better idea than buying locally, since you may not be feeling too well if dehydrated, and it is best to start the process of rehydration as soon as possible. To be extra sure you will always have an oral rehydration product if needed, pack one in your hand baggage and another in your suitcase.
Oral rehydration formulas contain water and electrolytes, to re-establish correct levels of hydration in the body. Electrolytes, which are present in our foods, help the body retain fluid and are essential for nerve and muscle function. The amount of water and electrolytes in the body at any one time is controlled by how much fluid we consume and how much fluid we lose daily. Water and electrolytes move around the body constantly to maintain the correct balance and allow the body to perform its many vital functions. Both are lost when we sweat, vomit, have diarrhea, or pass urine.
Hydralyte™ products can be enjoyed by the whole family, including pregnant/nursing mothers, children and seniors, and are an excellent means of preventing—as well as treating—dehydration.