Are You Dehydrated?
Above-average temperatures are expected to continue to grip the West this summer, according to the latest outlook from The Weather Company, an IBM Business. From the Plains to the Great Lakes and Northeast may slightly above-average temperatures through August. In short, it’s hot! Summer is an obvious time for concern about dehydration.
Mild dehydration can have adverse effects on mood and energy. Sometimes the signs of dehydration are less obvious than thirst and fatigue. Dehydration can be caused by hot, humid weather which increases sweat and fluid loss, but dry heat is actually more harmful. Certain medications, such as diuretics and some blood pressure medications, also can lead to dehydration, generally because they cause you to urinate more.
There are some subtle signs of dehydration that can save you the headache – literally and figuratively – of dehydration.
Your breath and skin may be telling you you’re running low on water. If you have bad breath, that is a sign of increased bacteria in the mouth. Saliva is a natural antibacterial and dehydration means your body isn’t making enough. Dry, flushed skin is a sure sign of dehydration as well.
Craving sweets. When you’re dehydrated, it can be difficult for the liver, which uses water, to release stored glucose, causing food cravings. Cravings for sweets are the most common because your body may be experiencing difficulty breaking down glucose. It’s also common for our body to confuse the feeling of thirst with hunger, meaning that you may feel hungry when all you really need is water.
Headaches. While headache is a symptom of more serious heat-related illness, a migraine can be triggered due to hot conditions or possibly dehydration. It’s never a bad idea to drink water when you have a headache, just in case dehydration is the reason.
If you aren’t sure about your hydration status, here are two simple tests to find out.
Use two fingers to pinch up some skin on the back of your hand, then let the skin go. The skin should spring back to its normal position in less than a couple of seconds. If it doesn’t, that’s a sign of dehydration. If you’re well-hydrated, your urine will be mostly clear with a tinge of yellow (the color of light lemonade before it hits the bowl). Darker yellow or orange are the “warning” colors to watch for and you should start drinking fluid.