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Category: Hydration

11 Signs You’re Dehydrated

11 Signs You’re Dehydrated

With summer about to kick off and temperatures on the rise – with some Southern states looking at possibly 3 more months of 90+ degree days – it becomes even more important to make sure you and your family are staying safely hydrated. Even in cooler climates, it’s possible to become dehydrated – the symptoms of which will come on at a slower rate than in hot weather. But the heat, especially when combined with outdoor activities, can quickly take a toll if you’re not properly hydrated.

As a general hydration rule, you’ll want to take in 1 cup of fluid or water for every 20 minutes of exercise. But John Batson, M.D, a sports medicine physician with Lowcountry Spine & Sport in Hilton Head Island, S.C., and an American Heart Association volunteer, cautioned against drinking fruit juices or sugary drinks, such as soda. “They can be hard on your stomach if you’re dehydrated,” he said.

According to the National Center on Health, Physical Activity and Disability (NCHPAD), fluid should be consumed prior to, during, and after participating in physical activity or sporting events. It is recommended that 14 to 22 fluid ounces (oz) (just under 2 to 3 cups) be consumed 2 hours prior to an event or planned activity, and 6 to 12 oz be consumed every 15 to 20 minutes (as tolerated) during, as well as after, an activity in order to replace water loss.

Be vigilant about experiencing any of the following symptoms when you’re outdoors or being active this summer, as each is a sign of dehydration.

Increased thirst
“If you get thirsty, you’re already dehydrated,” says Dr. Batson. If you know you’re going to be out in the heat all day, start your hydration routine the night before, and drink plenty of fluids upon waking. This gives you a head start, making it less likely you’ll become dehydrated. 

Dry mouth
Simply, put, drinking too little fluid can cause thick-feeling saliva and a dry/sticky mouth. Without the lubrication of saliva, a dry mouth can cause a general soreness around the mouth and on the tongue. Your mouth might start to feel gummed up, and your dry tongue might stick to the roof of your mouth.

Weakness/muscle cramps
If your muscles are feeling weak, dehydration may be the culprit. “When the nerves that connect to the muscles aren’t surrounded by as much water and sodium as they need,” they become hypersensitive, causing the muscles to involuntarily contract or spasm, says Michael Bergeron, executive director of the National Institute for Athletic Health & Performance at Sanford USD Medical Center in Sioux Falls, S.D.

Dizziness
“Suddenly, your body doesn’t have the capacity to get enough blood flow to the brain. At the same time, you’re exerting yourself and that increases your body temperature and breathing rate, both of which cause the blood vessels in your brain to dilate,” says Bergeron, leading to a dizzy spell. If you feel lightheaded after you stand up quickly it could be a sign that your body’s low on H20.

Palpitations and/or rapid heartbeat
According to Men’s Fitness, when dehydration decreases the volume of blood in your body, your heart speeds up as it attempts to pump out the same amount of blood it would if you were properly hydrated. As Dr. Batson points out, “If you’re well hydrated, your heart doesn’t have to work as hard.”

Confusion/trouble concentrating
AARP.com reports that researchers at the University of Connecticut Human Performance Laboratory “note that dehydration causes changes in electrolyte balances in the blood, which directly affect parts of the mind responsible for reasoning.” Changes in electrolyte levels also can alter brain levels of serotonin, which influences mood.

Sluggishness
Almost every cell in the body needs water in order to function, so if you’re lacking liquid, your body must work extra hard to carry out basic functions.

Dark urine and/or decreased urine output
If you’re properly hydrated, says Men’s Fitness Magazine, your urine will be clear or very light yellow. But when you’re dehydrated, your kidneys try to keep every last drop of water in your body and thus decrease the amount of urine that you produce. The less water that your body has to flush out, the less water there is in your urine, and the more concentrated (read: darker) it becomes.

Inability to sweat
If you’re out in the heat or working out, your body needs to sweat in order to prevent itself from overheating. To sweat, however, you need to be hydrated. Lack of sweating may create problems of temperature control and lead to steep rises in body temperature during hot weather.

Dry skin
“As you go through various stages of dehydration, you become very dizzy and you don’t have enough blood volume so you get very dry skin,” says Dr. John Higgins, associate professor of cardiovascular medicine at the University of Texas in Houston, and chief of cardiology at Lyndon B. Johnson General Hospital. “Because the skin is dry and not evaporating as well, you can also experience flushing of the skin.”

Headaches
Dr. Higgins explained to EverydayHealth.com: “The brain sits inside a fluid sack that keeps it from bumping against the skull. If that fluid sack is depleted or running low because of dehydration, the brain can push up against parts of the skull, causing headaches.”

 

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Demystifying the pH of Drinking Water

Demystifying the pH of Drinking Water

Can understanding the significance of the pH of drinking water help you choose better water for you and your family?  In short, yes.  When you’re choosing between bottled, tap, or filtered, understanding the role that water plays in assisting your body in its quest to maintain proper pH at 7.365 is critical.

The pH level of a substance tells you whether it’s an acid, a base, or neutral.  On the pH scale, which is 0-14, things with a pH of 7 are neutral, higher than 7 are basic, and lower than 7 are acidic.  Water is often considered neutral, with the normal range for surface water systems ranging from 6.5-8.5. At the proper pH of 7.365, your body is not only hydrated, but is better able to flush out toxins and waste products.

Water with a pH lower than 6.5 is acidic and “soft.”  While soft water is great for getting soaps and detergents to lather, it can be a sign that your water contains metals such as iron, manganese, copper, lead, and zinc, all of which can be harmful when ingested in large quantities.  Water with a very low pH often tastes metallic and can leave blue-green stains on sinks and drains.

Water that has a pH higher than 8.5 is basic and “hard.”  Hard water generally doesn’t pose the same health risks that soft water can, but it can taste bitter and make it difficult for soaps and detergents to lather.

When considering pH, it is also helpful to consider water’s alkalinity.  Alkalinity is a measure of the capacity of the water to resist a change in pH that would typically make the water more acidic.  This resistance to change is one of alkaline water’s benefits.

Along with the pH level, it also helps to understand the difference between distilled vs. purified water, because things like minerals found in the water can have an effect on its pH.  Technically, distilled water is a form of purified water, but it’s differentiated by the method used to remove impurities.  Distilled water is heated until it boils and turns into a vapor, and then the vapor is cooled until it again reenters a liquid state. During this process, virtually all impurities are left behind when the water turns to vapor.  This creates very pure water, but because it has no additives, it tastes awful, and can actually pull minerals from your body when you drink it, so it shouldn’t be used as drinking water on a regular basis.  Purified water is water that has gone through any form of purification process, often some form of filtration.  Because the methods of purification are varied, the pureness of the water also varies greatly.

To make sure that you’re drinking the best water for your health, consider a purified water system that provides alkaline water for your home. It removes harmful substances from your drinking water, and is a safe and economical solution.