Drinking fluids is crucial to staying healthy and maintaining the function of every system in your body, including your heart, brain, and muscles. Fluids carry nutrients to your cells, flush bacteria from your bladder, and prevent constipation. Here are answers to some important questions regarding monitoring and maintaining proper hydration when the temperatures start to rise.

What are the  signs of dehydration?

Urine is an excellent indication of dehydration. If your urine is pale yellow, you are good to go, but if your urine is dark and condensed looking and you aren’t urinating very often during the day, time to drink up. Other signs of dehydration include weakness, low blood pressure, dizziness, headache, and confusion. As we age, our ability to detect thirst diminishes, particularly for those individuals on diuretic medicines.

How much fluid should I drink?

Experts say healthy people should get 30 to 50 ounces of water per day (about 1 to 1.5 liters), but there are multiple factors one should consider when determining how much fluid to take in. Climate, clothing, exercise intensity and duration, age, and certain medical conditions and pharmaceuticals can all impact the amount of daily water you’ll need. For example, if you have diabetes, heart disease, or cystic fibrosis you may need to drink more water, and make sure to ask your doctor and/or pharmacist if any of the medications you’re taking cause diuresis (the excess production of urine), as this can also impact your suggested daily fluid intake amount.

If you want to determine how much fluid to take in during exercise, weigh yourself before and after moderate-to-intense physical activity to see how much you’ve lost through perspiration. For every pound of sweat you lose, that’s a pint of water you’ll need to replenish. Not

What should I drink?

For most people, plain water is the best thing to drunk to stay hydrated. Healthy sources of water also include fruits and vegetables, as they contain a high percentage of water. Sports drinks with electrolytes may be useful for people doing high intensity, vigorous exercise in very hot weather, though they tend to be high in added sugars and calories. Fruit juices and sugary drinks such as soda will help you if you’re in a pinch and there’s nothing else to drink, because they are water-based, but only if there are no other healthier alternatives.

When should I drink?

Experts say drinking water before you exercise or go out into the sun is an important first step. Otherwise, you’ll be playing catch-up and cause strain on your heart. Sitting in the sun on a hot or humid day, even if you aren’t exercising, can also cause your body to need more fluids. It’s best to spread your fluid intake over the course of the day rather than drinking a lot of water all at once. There is such a thing as overhydration, also know as hyponatremia, which is a condition in which sodium levels in the blood dip to dangerously low levels. This occurs when the amount of salt and other electrolytes in your body becomes too diluted.

            Sources: 1) Harvard Health Publications site. Harvard Health Letter. The importance of staying hydrated. June 18, 2015. http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/the- importance-of-staying-hydrated. Accessed 1 May 2017; 2) American Heart Association site. Staying hydrated, staying healthy. http://www.heart.org/ HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/PhysicalActivity/FitnessBasics/Staying-Hydrated—Staying- Healthy_UCM_441180_ Article.jsp#.WRs2ZhiZN0I. Accessed 1 May 2017; 3) Kenney WL, ChiuP. Influenceofageonthirstandfluidintake.MedSciSportsExerc.

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