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Don’t wait. Hydrate.
Getting plenty of fluids every day is essential for good health.During the long days of summer, it’s natural to think about watering your lawn and garden, the houseplants, and the pets. But what about your need for water?
Getting plenty of fluids every day is essential for good health. Water is in every cell in the body. It helps regulate body temperature, cushions and lubricates joints, protects sensitive tissues, and assists the digestive system.
Most people can meet their need for water by drinking when they are thirsty and consuming fluids with meals. But with hot weather, vigorous physical activity, an illness or age, your body needs even more water.
The need for hydration
You need water to replace what your body loses through everyday functions—such as sweating, going to the bathroom and exhaling. It’s essential to replace lost fluids to avoid becoming dehydrated.Being thirsty is a signal that your body is already on the way to being dehydrated. It is important to drink fluids even before signs of thirst appear and to drink more than your thirst demands. Among the symptoms of dehydration are dry mouth, weakness and dizziness. In athletes, dehydration may also lead to muscle cramps.
Left untreated, dehydration can cause serious, even life-threatening, problems regardless of a person’s age. It is the most common fluid and electrolyte problem present in the older population. As the body ages, its ability to register thirst decreases, total body water content decreases and kidney function changes. All of these conditions may lead to dehydration in older adults. Additionally, many urinary tract infections are caused by dehydration. Each year, numerous adults are hospitalized and millions of dollars are spent on this preventable health condition.
Individual water needs vary widely, depending on factors such as physical activity, exposure to heat and age. According to the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS), those taking medications such as diuretics and laxatives, and individuals who may develop diarrhea from some antibiotics are at risk for dehydration as well. It is especially important to drink while you are sick. Your body has an increased need for fluids when you are experiencing fever, vomiting and diarrhea.
If you are concerned about dehydration in you or a loved one, please consult your health care providers as soon as possible before a state of moderate or severe dehydration is reached.
Keeping adults out of the hospital for preventable health conditions is at the heart of the mission of the Tom Green County Partnership for Better Health.
The partnership, which includes the Area Agency on Aging of the Concho Valley, the ASU Caregiver Research Institute, Baptist Retirement Community, San Angelo Community Medical Center, Shannon Medical Center and Tom Green County Treasurer Dianna Spieker, was initially awarded $150,000 from the DSHS to raise awareness on three medical conditions that severely affect hospitalizations in Tom Green County. This summer, DSHS awarded the partnership an additional $175,000 to reduce hospitalizations related to bacterial pneumonia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), dehydration and urinary tract infections for the next 24 months.
Members of the partnership are readily available to present information to any business meeting or support group. If you would like more information about scheduling a presentation on dehydration and other preventable hospitalization conditions, please visit www.tgcpartnershipforbetterhealth.org.
Along with water, other healthy choices for keeping well-hydrated include:
- Fat-free or low-fat milk.
- Unsweetened, 100 percent fruit juices.
- Unsweetened iced tea or coffee.
- Fruits and vegetables with a high water content, such as watermelons, grapefruits, apples, lettuce, broccoli and carrots.
When you do choose water, you can give it a kick by adding a wedge of lemon or lime.