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Are you dehydrated?

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Hot and humid conditions are forecast for the summer and with our bodies being made of up to 78%
water, hydration is always important. Dehydration can be caused by vomiting and/or diarrhoea,
fever, sunstroke or simply excess sweating from being too hot in this weather! At best dehydration
will cause you to feel thirsty but at it's most severe, dehydration (especially in the very young or
elderly) can be life threatening.

 

If you feel thirsty, get this... you are already dehydrated! I often think of a wilted daisy with no water... that is how dehydration looks. You feel tired, weak and light headed just like that daisy. Other symptoms might include a dry mouth or cough, headache, swollen feet, constipation, dark coloured pee or muscle cramps. If you are very dehydrated, symptoms might include not passing urine, your skin stays up when pinched, your eyes and cheeks might become sunken or you have cold and clammy skin. Babies and children may become irritable, sleepy or floppy and may have changes to breathing.

Whatever the cause, replacing fluid is the most important thing you can do. (for moderate to severe dehydration, seek help from a health care professional immediately) The best way to rehydrate is to use specially balanced oral rehydration solutions like Hydrolyte, that you can get from us at the pharmacy. These contain the right amounts of electrolytes, glucose and water to replace lost nutrients. They come in powder form or ready-made and if your stomach is not upset, you can even try the effervescent variety. If you haven't anything else around, at least drink water or diluted fruit juice or energy drinks (five cups of water to one cup of drink) Note that undiluted flat lemonade or energy drinks contain too much sugar and will just make things worse. Note also that babies and young children need special care, so call a health care professional for rehydration advice first.

Sometimes rehydration is difficult if you are feeling nauseous. The secret to getting fluid into your body in this case is to have small amounts of fluid often. For babies and children, this literally means a teaspoonful every minute. For adults 1/4 cup every 15 minutes.

To prevent dehydration, keep track of how much fluid you drink. Be sure to drink water throughout the day, including at meals and avoid sweet fizzy drinks, alcohol and caffeinated drinks. One way to make sure you are properly hydrated is to check your pee. If it's clear, pale or straw coloured, you are properly hydrated. If it is darker, then you will need to keep drinking.

How much water do I need to drink each day?

The age old question. However it does not have a standard answer as it depends on your weight, age, level of activity, if you have certain medical conditions or medications, the temperature on the day, etc, etc.  So even though standard advice is eight glasses of water, check with us at the pharmacy or your doctor for what is best for you.

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