The dangers of dehydration

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What is dehydration?

The human body is almost 70% water. It is found in cells, blood and mucous membranes… its presence is essential to the body’s functioning. Its consumption must be sufficient to compensate for the amount excreted by perspiration and other biological processes that cause its loss. When water intake is insufficient, the body has to deal with the shortage as best it can. This shortage is known as dehydration.

It may be temporary, but acute, if it results from intense activity in a hot environment, for example. In a healthy person, the loss can be quickly compensated by a period of calm accompanied by a good quantity of water.

It can also be chronic, the result of too little water consumption over a prolonged period. Dehydration can set in long before it’s noticed in more vulnerable people, such as the elderly, children and people with health problems, who may be slower to feel thirsty. What’s more, an infant will lose a proportion of its water much more quickly if it suffers from diarrhea or vomiting.

Dehydration is measured in terms of body weight. A water loss of as little as 1% to 2% of body weight is already considered dehydration. A loss of 15% to 20% of body weight can lead to death.

The first signs and symptoms of dehydration are :

  • dark urine;
  • dry mouth and throat;
  • lack of energy;
  • reddish, hot, dry skin;
  • headaches and dizziness;
  • heat intolerance;

If no effective action is taken to remedy the situation, dehydration can also lead to :

  • muscle weakness, cramps, caused by electrolyte imbalance in the muscles;
  • difficult swallowing;
  • painful urination;
  • confusion or delirium;
  • state of shock and deterioration of general condition.

What’s more, if water intake is consistently insufficient, the risk of liver, kidney, digestive and even heart problems is even greater.

So what to do? Of course, the best way to avoid the many inconveniences associated with dehydration is to prevent it! Water and rehydration drinks such as Pedialyte and sports drinks are your best allies in countering the negative effects of dehydration. On the other hand, avoid alcoholic or caffeinated beverages, or those that speed up the urinary production process.

So next week, our favourite recipes for delicious drinks made with purified water that will undoubtedly help you drink your 2 to 3 liters of water a day!

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