[Editor’s note. We published a similar article a year ago, but with the temperatures climbing and summer around the corner, we’ve updated the article to keep everyone properly hydrated.]
Water is an essential element for sustaining life. The human body is composed of more than 60% water. Without water, we won’t survive for more than a few days.
Summer’s warm temperatures and increased humidity can cause dehydration more quickly than during other seasons. No matter what time of year, it is important to stay properly hydrated.
10 Warning Signs of Dehydration:
- Thirst. If you are feeling thirsty, you are already dehydrated!
- Dry Mouth. Some medications can add to the sense of dry mouth, reduce saliva production and exacerbate the problem.
- Fatigue. If you feel tired after activity or in the afternoon, you may be dehydrated.
- Dizziness. Feeling light-headed or having vertigo is signs of moderate dehydration.
- Depression or Irritability. If you are feeling a case of the blues or find yourself snapping at people for no reason, you may be dehydrated. Dehydration can cause unwanted behaviors in people with Dementia.
- Dark or Cloudy Urine. If your urine isn’t clear, you are dehydrated. The darker the color of your urine, the more severe your dehydration.
- Difficulty going to the bathroom. Constipation is a common symptom of chronic dehydration.
- Changes in Skin. Flushed, or slightly red, skin is symptom of acute dehydration. Dry skin can be a symptom of chronic dehydration.
- Nausea. Often, if you feel nauseated, you won’t feel like drinking anything BUT it is necessary for treating and preventing dehydration. If you feel nauseated, take small sips of cool, not cold, water.
- Rapid Breathing. Rapid breathing is a sign of severe dehydration and is often accompanied by a rapid heartbeat. If you are experiencing rapid breathing and an increased heartbeat, seek medical attention.
If you experience any of the warning signs, drink sips of cool water to avoid nausea and vomiting.
When you have trouble taking foods and liquids by mouth, it can be especially challenging to get enough hydration. People who must consume thickened liquids are often put-off by the flavor and texture of older, starch-based thickeners. New xanthan gum-based thickeners like ThickenUp® Clear taste better, mix easily and don’t continue to thicken upon standing.
Convenience is also an important factor in getting enough to drink. It is easier to just “grab and go” water, juices and other beverages that have been thickened in bulk and kept readily available in the refrigerator. Commercially prepared thickened beverages provide a consistent supply of thickened liquids but can be a bit more expensive than thickening liquids at home.
Individuals who have limited mobility and who have dysphagia are at high risk for dehydration because they must depend on others to meet their need for liquids. Keeping cool thickened beverages within arms-reach is essential but can be a challenge. One solution is to make ice cube with water that has been thickened to the proper consistency with a xanthan gum thickener, like ThickenUp® Clear and then using the ice cubes in drinks kept within easy reach. Do not make ice cubes with starch-thickened water because they brake-down into particles as they melt, causing an unsafe texture. “Regular” ice cubes are dangerous for people on thickened liquids because, as they melt, they thin-out the consistency of the beverage.
Eating foods like soups, smoothies, yogurt and other foods that naturally have a high liquid content can also help to combat dehydration. “Perfectly Safe Popsicles” are also a great way to encourage hydration. Please contact me for the recipe.
Dehydration can be exacerbated by the use of diuretics, laxatives, antidepressants, certain antibiotics and other medications. Please consult your Pharmacist about your specific medications if you have questions or concerns.
Dehydration can be very serious. Severe dehydration can lead to hospitalization.
The key to preventing dehydration is simple: Avoid it. Be aware of what you are drinking and consume more liquids!
For more information or to speak to someone about nutrition or swallowing problems, contact Laura Michael. Click here for her bio and contact information.