As spring approaches and the weather begins to warm up, our body is required to sweat more in order to maintain its core body temperature. Thus, physical exertion during the summer months can cause severe water loss. If this water loss is not replenished, it may lead to a very serious condition called dehydration.
Dehydration occurs when your body does not have enough water to carry out its normal functions. Anyone can become dehydrated, however children and older adults seem to be more at risk.
In order to understand dehydration, you must first understand the importance of water to the human body. First and foremost, water is the main constituent of all body fluids such as blood, enzymes and digestive juices. It is also very important in the elimination of waste.
The average person loses more that 2.5 litres of water every day by sweating, breathing and other bodily processes. In addition to water, your body loses electrolytes such as minerals and salts which play an important role in the maintenance of the fluid balance in the body.
In most cases, you can replenish these nutrients through the consumption of foods and liquids. However, if you eliminate more water than you consume, your body will essentially dry out.
The most common causes of dehydration include excessive sweating, vomiting and intense diarrhea. Basically, anything that causes the body to lose excessive amounts of water can lead to dehydration. Other causes such as increased urination which is associated with diabetes and severe burns are less common.
The symptoms of dehydration are fairly easy to recognize. In mild cases, you will experience a dry, sticky mouth, thirst, headaches, dizziness or light-headedness and muscle weakness. As the condition worsens, you will notice an increase in the previously mentioned symptoms as well as a lack of sweating and urination, sunken eyes, rapid heart rate, low blood pressure and loss of elasticity of the skin.
Severe dehydration can lead to serious complications such as kidney failure, seizures, swelling of the brain and shock.
The good news is that in most cases of mild to moderate dehydration, drinking fluids regularly will solve the problem. However, it is vital to consult a physician if you experience any of the severe signs of dehydration, as this condition can be fatal.
As I always say, “Prevention is the best cure.” So during these summer months when you are driving down the highway or working outside around your truck, make sure to drink plenty of water.
Try to remember that thirst is not a good indicator of your body’s hydration level. A better gauge is the colour of your urine. If it is clear and light, then you are well-hydrated but if it is dark yellow or amber, it indicates that your body needs more water.
Well, I hope you found this article interesting and informative. Until next month, drive safely.
-Dr. Christopher H. Singh runs Trans Canada Chiropractic at the 230 Truck Stop in Woodstock, Ont. He can be reached at 519-421-2024.
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