Avoiding The Dangers Of Dehydration

by Christina Lasich, MD Health Professional

Summer heat got you feeling wilted? If you don't drink enough water, you'll feel even worse. Water is absolutely essential for your life and your body. Everything from the simple, small cells that protect you to the complex brain that controls you relies on water to operate. When you begin experiencing dehydration, an immediate alarm goes off in the brain and you'll feel thirsty. Ignoring that signal from the brain will result in a series of disastrous symptoms from dehydration like:

  • Dizziness

  • Light Headedness

  • Confusion

  • Muscle Cramps

  • Constipation

  • Urinary Infections

  • Weakness

  • Fatigue

  • Headaches

  • Rapid Heart Rate

  • Nausea

Preventing dehydration can be a challenging aspect of survival. Drinking water seems easy enough. But people often forget when busy or distracted, especially young people. And some people think that sodas, coffee drinks and energy drinks will suffice. Wrong, those drinks that contain caffeine just make dehydration worse because caffeine turns your kidneys on full blast and make you loose even more water. Alcohol has the same effect too. So both alcohol and caffeine should be avoided when it is warm outside.

Plain water is what you need to stay hydrated. Some of the athletic drinks contain additional electrolytes like sodium and potassium. These electrolytes are important to replace if you are sweating a lot, but watch out for the added sugar.

If you are thirsty, you are already behind your body's need for hydration. If your urine is dark, then you are way behind. Stay ahead of your need for water, then your body have a fighting chance when Mother Nature turns up the heat. Otherwise, it's difficult to catch up.

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of dehydration listed above, find a cool place in the shade, sit down, and drink up. But if you find yourself in a state of total exhaustion, delirium and confusion because of the heat and dehydration, seek care at your local emergency room where the fluids you've lost can be replaced rapidly by intravenous fluids.

Remember dehydration can eventually kill you. So don't ignore the warning signs of dehydration; better yet, avoid them.

Christina Lasich, MD
Meet Our Writer
Christina Lasich, MD

Christina Lasich, M.D., wrote about chronic pain and osteoarthritis for HealthCentral. She is physiatrist in Grass Valley, California. She specializes in pain management and spine rehabilitation.