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With temperatures reaching 28 to 30°C across the UK this summer, it’s not surprising that people were reaching for their water bottles. What is surprising is the number of people who allow themselves to become dehydrated before they top up their water supply, especially when the temperatures are much lower.
Everyone knows they need air and water to be able to survive. What you may not know accurately is that while you may be able to go without food for more than a month, even in a relatively cool climate, you will be lucky to last a week without water.
You will take in air naturally and you don’t have to plan to keep your supply topped up, but maintaining the correct level of water means that you have to do something about it, personally.
Water is stored in the human body and an amount is lost every single day. For the benefit of your health and body functions you need to replace this water as you’re losing it. When you increase exercise or do hard work that causes perspiration, you’ll need to replace the lost water before your body realises it is running low on supplies.
What causes dehydration?
When you’ve suddenly felt dehydrated, perhaps your mouth is dry or your body feels tired, you have already reached a high stage of dehydration and you should have dealt with the lack of water going into your body, somewhat sooner.
Apart from the amount of dehydration that occurs naturally as you go about your normal daily activities, where you increase your body’s temperature, your body will require more water immediately. This is why you can notice dehydration more on a hot summer’s day, because if you are combining good quality exercise or hard work in your garden in a heated environment, your dehydration levels will increase far quicker than on a cold winter’s day.
Some people require more water for rehydration. Young children need their water supplies kept high because of their constant movement and their ability to be up and running again after just a few moments’ rest. Pregnant women are a high risk for dehydration and need to maintain a steady level of water because of feeding two people. The elderly are particularly susceptible to a rapid decrease in hydration and can fall ill when their water levels are often kept just a shade above dehydration.
How to recognise dehydration
Being thirsty encourages you to take in water immediately, but in reality this is a sign that you are already too far dehydrated. If your alertness levels fall, you become tired and headaches can take hold, you may also lose some ability to concentrate well because you are already in the first stages of mild dehydration.
There are good reasons why experts suggest that you drink around eight glasses of water a day, which equates to about 1.5 litres of water. Some you will consume directly and you will take another full litre of water into your body’s system through foods.
Healthy people anticipate the need to drink before they become thirsty and head for the bottled water cooler or the fridge. Furthermore, people who wish to eat less so their weight doesn’t increase dramatically can drink a glass of water 15 minutes before a meal so that this rehydrates the body and makes the stomach feel comfortable before the first food arrives.