Proper Hydration Year Round

   No one needs to be reminded of the importance of proper hydration in July and August. But in the glorious days of early spring it is easy to overlook the toll increasing activity and temperature takes on our bodies. We have all heard again and again about the importance of proper hydration. But what does that mean?

         As an infant our bodies are comprised of up to 75% water. That drops to as low as 55% as an older adult. There are multiple systems in the human body that work in tandem to regulate proper water balance.

         Every body is unique and as such has different fluid requirements, but there are some basic guidelines that form a good starting point.

1.         Infants 6-12 months should have 5 ounces of water for every 2.2 pounds.

2.         Toddlers 1-3 years should drink 40 ounces daily.

3.         Young children aged 3-5 years should drink 50 ounces daily.

4.         Children aged 5-9 years should drink a liter daily.

5.         Young teens aged 9-12 years need 1.5 liters of water daily.

6.         Young adults 13 and older need 2 liters of water daily.

7.         Average healthy adult females, 2.2 liters a day.

8.         Average healthy adult males, 3 liters daily.

These include all forms of fluid intake including food. In fact about 20% of our hydrating fluids can from our solid diet. It doesn’t seem that hard to keep up with 3 liters a day, especially if a significant portion comes from a good diet. So where is all water going?

         The term for water loss from sweating and urination is called “sensible” loss.  “Insensible” loss is from evaporation from the skin and losing fluids in the form of moist air vapor when breathing out. This insensible loss can exceed 600cc of water a day. Fever, and increased respiratory rate can increase the loss of fluid. Pregnancy and fever and breast-feeding can increase the need for fluids. Extended time in the heat, exercising, vomiting and diarrhea can all increase fluid loss. Muscular energy requires adequate amounts of fluids.

         Dehydration as little as 2% can cause serious symptoms including headaches, feeling sluggish and irritable, and decreased mental and physical performance. The symptoms can progress to heart palpitations, racing heart, dizziness, dry mouth, confusion and delirium and muscle cramping. In its most severe state dehydration can cause  loss of consciousness, coma, or even death. People who cannot verbally communicate their symptoms may have sunken eyes, loose skin, dry mucous membranes and dry skin. The most advanced cases of dehydration can lead to heat exhaustion and heat stroke and possibly death.

         How do we ensure that our spring and summer are safe and enjoyable? Always have water, juice, electrolyte or sport drinks accessible.  Avoid alcohol and caffeine as these can increase fluid loss.

          The good news is that the body is a wonderful machine and like your friendly bank, you get credit the moment any hydration hits the taste buds. The body starts processing it immediately. Vegetables and fruits are tasty foods that are high in water content.

         When hydrating, avoid massive amounts of just water all at once, this can lead to a serious condition know as hyponatremia (too little salt and electrolytes In the body). When exercising in the heat a good balance is 1 glass of sports drink for every 2 glasses of water.

         At the end of the day, the warm weather is meant to be enjoyed and kids especially should be out there soaking up the sun and fun. Just keep an eye out for proper hydration. Make sure nothing gets in the way of a great spring and summer.

Clay Istre PA-C