Dehydration. It’s a word that you usually hear in the middle of a hot summer day. It’s always a priority to drink enough water during the summer to avoid dehydration and stay healthy, especially while exercising or sitting outside in the sun. But did you know that dehydration can also be a problem during the winter?
Dehydration isn’t just a summer thing…
Dehydration can cause all of the same health issues and side effects during the winter as it can during the summer.
So, here’s everything you need to know about staying hydrated during the cold, dry winter months and why it’s so important.
What Is Dehydration?
Dehydration occurs whenever the body fails to replace the water that it loses on a daily basis. Our body is mostly made up of water, so losing even a small part of that water can be dangerous. The goal is to take in just as much water as we’re letting out by sweating, urinating, and even breathing.
The water that is found in our body has a whole lot of jobs. It helps carry nutrients throughout the bloodstream, lubricates joints, keeps blood thin so the heart doesn’t have to work too hard, and controls blood pressure.
When we don’t have enough water in our bodies to do these jobs, our health suffers and it can cause serious problems. That’s why staying hydrated is so important.
It Can Happen in the Winter?
One of the biggest myths about dehydration is that it only happens in the summer. This is completely untrue! Dehydration is a huge risk in the winter, especially when partaking in outdoor activities like skiing or sledding.
It’s harder for us to think about hydration during the winter because our body tells us that it’s doing okay. In the summer, when we get dehydrated, our body tells us by being thirsty. However, in the wintertime, blood vessels constrict when they are cold to save the water that is available and the body’s knee-jerk thirst response to being dehydrated is diminished. Your body literally makes you think that you’re hydrated enough by simply not making you feel thirsty.
Because of this, dehydration is actually riskier during the wintertime because we don’t really know what we’re looking for. We aren’t thirsty so we don’t feel the need to drink water, but really our body is begging for more hydration. Drinking extra water even when you’re freezing is vital to avoiding dehydration.
Risks of Dehydration
Dehydration brings a lot of physical problems. For instance, you may become weak, dizzy, confused, nauseous, and may even faint. Dehydration can also cause severe headaches and migraines. These can be debilitating and come with symptoms such as pain and depression.
Looking for these signs can help you identify dehydration hopefully before it becomes a serious health risk. If you become dehydrated, immediately drink water and seek medical assistance if symptoms get worse or do not improve.
How to Avoid Dehydration
Avoiding dehydration during the winter months is a little bit more difficult than during the summer for the reasons stated above. However, there are some steps you can take to make sure your body has enough water.
If you know you’ll be heading outside, practice these tips to stay healthy and hydrated.
Always be sipping on water and eating foods that are high in water content. Carry a water bottle with you even though you don’t think you’ll be thirsty. Try foods like lettuce, apples, and watermelon to up your water intake. Try your best to consume water throughout your day and not just during your workouts.
Wearing too much clothing outside can also lead to dehydration because it makes the bodywork harder and ends up producing more sweat, which is water loss. Choose clothes that are lightweight to allow for air circulation and dress in layers, so that once you work up a sweat, you can take off a layer or two.
Shockingly, it is actually possible to do the opposite and overdose on water. Drinking too much water creates water intoxication that causes a lot of the same symptoms as dehydration. Make sure you’re drinking just enough water to have the right balance. If you begin to feel bloated, it may be time to cut back on the water for a while.
So, yes, dehydration is something to think about during the winter months even if it seems like your body is doing okay.
Don’t fall victim to winter dehydration and spread the word to others about the importance of staying hydrated in all seasons.
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