Dehydration can be a dangerous health problem, especially during the hot summer months. It happens when you lose more fluids than you’re putting into your body. Listed below are some of the dangers associated with dehydration:
- High blood pressure. Blood is about 92 percent water when your body is fully hydrated. When dehydrated, your blood becomes thicker, slowing blood flow and raising your blood pressure.
- Asthma and allergies. When dehydrated, your airways will restrict as a means to conserve water. And the rate of histamine produced by your body increases as you lose more and more water.
- High cholesterol. If your body is low on fluids, it will produce more cholesterol to prevent water loss from the cells.
- Digestion. Dehydration causes cells in your intestines to extract water from food waste, causing the waste to become hard, leading to constipation.
- Kidney stones. The most common cause of kidney stones is not drinking enough water.
- Joint pain and stiffness. The cartilage surfaces of bones contain considerable amounts of water. When dehydrated, your cartilage is weakened causing pain and stiffness.
Symptoms of Dehydration
Your body’s initial response to dehydration is thirst. Mild to moderate dehydration is likely to cause dry mouth, dry skin, tiredness, decreased urine output, dark-colored urine, headaches and dizziness.
Extreme dehydration requires immediate medical attention. Symptoms include sunken eyes, rapid heartbeat, rapid breathing, fever and in some cases loss of consciousness. Complications of extreme dehydration can be serious and life threatening and include shock, coma and death.
- Drink plenty of fluids (water is best) every day and drink more when the weather is hot and/or you are exercising.
- Avoid alcoholic and caffeinated beverages, which can speed up dehydration.
- Stay out of excessive heat if possible. When outdoors, wear light clothing, use sunscreen and protect your head by wearing a hat.