PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – With hot weather comes the danger of becoming dehydrated.
For some people, by the time they tank back up it might be too late.
“If you wait until you’re thirsty, you’re already down a couple of pints of fluid, and always playing catch up,” Dr. Barbara Clark said.
In other words, you’re chronically dehydrated and not taking in enough fluid to make up for what your body is losing through urine and sweat.
“People are really busy, and I think sometimes they don’t pay attention to their own body signals,” Dr. Clark said.
Signals include tiredness, headaches, dry mouth, constipation or even kidney stones and urinary tract infections.
“I think we see it more than we realize,” Dr. Clark said.
While it can happen to anyone, older people whose sense of thirst isn’t as keen are at risk. Especially, older women.
“They don’t want the issue of having to find a bathroom, or go to the bathroom, or have leakage if they already have bladder problems,” Dr. Clark said.
Blood tests can sometimes show the problem.
“It might look like you have impaired kidney function, because your waste products are being reabsorbed,” Dr. Clark said. “I’ve had a couple patients referred to me, sent to me, for evaluation of possible kidney disease, when really the problem was just not drinking enough fluids.”
Or you can just look at what your body puts out to know that you’re adequately hydrated,
“When the urine comes out it’s a nice pale color, not a dark yellow,” Dr. Clark said.
And while some people have psychiatric conditions that cause excessive drinking, or purposely intoxicate themselves with water as a game, it’s really hard to overdo it.
“Once in a while, I will get a patient who comes wanting to know why they urinate so much, and then I will have to say it’s because you drink so much. It’s more the exception than the rule,” Dr. Clark said.
For best hydration, avoid sugary drinks. Caffeinated beverages are okay, but not ideal.
“Sixty percent of our body is made of water, and water is the best thing,” Dr. Clark said.
Two liters of water is what you should aim for every day to keep your organs and body systems in good working order.
If you don’t like plain water, flavoring it with orange, lemon or cucumber slices is perfectly okay.