Vail Daily column: Combating winter dehydration
As we all know, our bodies are composed of mostly water. This makes it imperative that we focus on hydration at all times of the year.
Unfortunately, most of us only consider combating our body’s loss of water during the summer months, when it is hot outside and we can feel ourselves losing water through perspiration. That is also the time of year when we most often hear about the need to hydrate. Yet, in winter, the risk of dehydration is also very real. The causes for fluid loss may still be present but without the frequent or commonly thought of warning signs.
Some reasons for lack of water retention include:
• Fever from the flu
• Diarrhea from a stomach virus
• Vomiting from stomach illness
• Increased urination from certain types of medications
The aging process may also cause a reduction in sense of thirst people feel.
SIGNS OF DEHYDRATION
Below are some of the signs and symptoms of dehydration from the blog of David E. Thomas, M.D., www.knittingdoc.wordpress.com:
• Decreased urine output and urine that is darker in color
• Dry nasal passages
• Dry lips, mouth and eyes
Decrease in sweating
Muscle cramps, nausea, vomiting, lightheadedness (especially when standing) and weakness
• Coma and organ failure if the dehydration remains untreated
Irritability and confusion in the elderly should also be heeded immediately.
PREVENTION IS KEY
As is often the case in medicine, prevention is the most important treatment. Here are six remedies and ways to prevent dehydration:
1, Fluid replacement is the treatment for dehydration. This can include water, juice, soups, clear broth, popsicles, Jell-O, ice cream, milk, puddings, decaffeinated beverages, KoolAid, nutritional drink supplements (Ensure, Boost and instant breakfast drinks) and replacement fluids that contain electrolytes (Pedialyte, Gatorade, Powerade, etc.).
2. Reduce or eliminate dehydrating beverages such as coffee, tea and soft drinks. Beware of alcohol intake, too. Alcoholic beverages increase risk of dehydration because the body requires additional water to metabolize alcohol, and it also acts as a diuretic.
3. If you drink unhealthy beverages, you need to add even more water to your daily total.
4. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables. Most have a high water content.
5. Drink water throughout the day in small amounts. It is not good to suddenly gulp down 64 ounces of water. You can fill a 24- to 32-ounce tumbler in the morning, refill it by late morning and refill it again for the afternoon. Consume that by 5 p.m. Most people need to start limiting fluids one to three hours before bedtime.
6. Individuals who experience vomiting and diarrhea can try to alter their diet and use medications to control symptoms to minimize their water loss. Acetaminophen or ibuprofen may also be used to control fever in these cases.
Keep in mind: If an individual becomes confused or lethargic; if there is persistent uncontrolled fever, vomiting or diarrhea; or there are any other specific concerns, then medical care should be accessed immediately. Call 911 for anyone with altered mental state — confusion, lethargy or coma.
Judson Haims is the owner of Visiting Angels Home Care in Eagle County. His contact information is, http://www.visitingangels.com/comtns, 970-328-5526.
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