Life cannot exist without water. In fact, between half and two-thirds of our body weight is water – not just in our blood and other fluids, but our muscles, fat and even bones contain water. The health of every cell in your body depends on this essential substance.

 

 

The average adult loses between 2.5 and 3 litres of water each day – through waste products (urine and faeces), temperature regulation (sweat) and through our mouth and lungs in the air we exhale.

 

And since the body has no way to store water, we need to replace the water we lose every day.

 

All foods contain water – about 20% of your daily fluid intake comes from your diet. And another 10% is recycled in your gut during digestion. But the rest needs to come from liquids you drink.

 

On average, a child will need 1-2 litres of fluid per day, while an adult will need 2-2.5 litres. How much you need depends on your gender, activity levels, diet, environment and health status.

 

If, however, we lose more liquid than we replace, we end up dehydrated.

 

Symptoms of Dehydration

  • Thirst

 

  • Headache

 

  • Lethargy

 

  • Dark-coloured urine

 

  • Dry mouth, lips and/or nasal passages

 

  • Loss of skin elasticity (white marks will appear if pinched)

 

  • Mood changes, confusion or slow responses

 

  • Sunken eyes and/or fontanelle (soft spot on babies head)
  • Rapid body weight loss of 2% or more.
 

 

The “Silly Season” and Dehydration

 

As the temperatures soar this summer, so does the risk of dehydration. Summer risk factors for dehydration include:

 

  • Heat – hot, dry and humid weather

 

  • Vomiting and Diarrhoea – more common in the summer months due to food spoilage

 

  • Travel – traveller’s diarrhoea, flying and travel to hot climates. Did you know that an air traveller

 

can lose 1.5 litres of fluid during a 3 hour flight?

 

  • Alcohol – alcohol is a diuretic, causing fluid loss. Each standard drink causes a net fluid loss of around

 

 

Treatment of Dehydration

 

Water

 

As with most illnesses, prevention is the most effective treatment. To prevent dehydration, you need to maintain a fluid intake sufficient to replace your fluid lost throughout each day.

 

Although fluids include soft drinks, tea, coffee, juice,

 

milk, soup, and alcohol, these all contain extra kilojoules that add to your daily energy consumption and will cause weight gain if taken excessively. Generally, water is the best choice.

 

Once you are already dehydrated however, or to maximise the efficiency of fluid taken, there is another option.

 

Electrolytes and Dehydration

 

Electrolytes are essential salts (including potassium, sodium and chloride) that are required by the body to capture and hold on to water. When you are dehydrated, the fluid loss is usually associated with a depletion of these necessary electrolytes, making it harder for your body to retain water.

 

The World Health Organisation recommends a specific formula of electrolyte supplementation as the primary treatment for dehydration – called Oral Rehydration Salts.

 

This formula contains the correct levels of electrolytes to ensure that water given is retained. It also contains a small amount of glucose that when given with sodium acts to “pump” water into the bloodstream – this facilitates more rapid rehydration than giving water alone.

 

So if you have a headache, are thirsty, tired or feeling dry (or if you just had a few too many drinks last night) – ask the team at your local Direct Chemist Outlet pharmacy about the best way to rehydrate – your body will love you for it!


DISCLAIMER: This material contains general information about medical conditions and treatments and is intended for educational purposes only. It does not constitute medical or professional advice, nor should it be used for the purposes of diagnosing or treating any illness. If you have or suspect you may have a health problem, you should consult your local pharmacist or health care provider to obtain professional advice relevant to your specific circumstances.