In the warmer months, mother nature makes it much more inviting for us to get outside, and be active. Undoubtedly this is a healthy and good thing, but you still need to take some precautions against dehydration.
Thanks to movies and other media, the common image of a dehydrated person is one crawling on their hands and knees through the desert. They are horribly sunburnt, have chapped lips, and are actually whispering the word “water” over and over again.
In reality, the signs of dehydration are much more subtle.
Here’s what you need to look for:
Sudden Irritability, or Confusion
One of the first signs of dehydration is more mental than physical. Many dehydrated people report that they suddenly become more irritable, confused, or less able to focus. Those foggy or agitated feelings could be your body’s way of warning you that a mild case of dehydration is about to get a lot worse. If you have been out in the sun, or exercising, and you suddenly notice a distinct change in your mood, it’s time to hit the water fountain and take a rest.
As your body loses water through sweat, it also loses salts. Essentially, the nutrients that your muscles require to work properly are leaving your body too quickly, and this can result in muscle cramps or sudden muscle tightness.
It is important that you pay attention to these feelings. This should feel noticeably different than the usual “good” ache that you get after a rewarding work out. These cramps may travel up and down your legs, across your chest, or from your upper arms down your back.
The bottom line is, when you feel this way, you need to rehydrate – and probably with a sports drink instead of just water.
Contrary to what you may have read on the Internet, clear urine is not a sign of optimal health. If you see hay colored or light yellow urine, you are still well hydrated. The problem comes in if you begin seeing a dark gold, or even orange to brown coloration.
If this happens, drink plenty of water, and avoid any strenuous activity for the rest of the day.
You Have Stopped Sweating
Sweating is a normal and healthy part of exercise or exertion. However, if your exercise continues past the point that your sweat does, you are dehydrated. This means your body is attempting to retain every drop of water still inside it. If this happens it is important that you immediately seek shade, cooler areas, and plenty to drink.
This might be the most counterintuitive item on the list, but it’s an important sign to watch for. If you’re out on a hot day, and you begin to feel chills, or any other symptoms that might make you feel feverish, you may actually be severely dehydrated. Seek medical attention.
It’s always great to get outdoors and have fun, but make sure you bring plenty of water with you wherever you go. Remember that even mild exercise can bring on dehydration. Listen to your body, and stay safe.