Determining how much water you should drink each day depends upon your body type, health, how active you are and where you live. Consider the following*:
- Age: Children get hotter than adults during exercise because they don’t sweat as much. The feeling of thirst actually lags behind water loss, so by the time children feel thirsty, they may already be dehydrated. For seniors, they may not recognize their own thirst signals.
- Exercise: If you are active, you lose more water than if you are sedentary. In general, most doctors recommend a few extra cups of fluid for intense workout sessions. Plus, if the weather is exceptionally warm, increase your fluid intake even more.
- Environment: Exposure to hot, humid or arid weather requires additional fluids too. During wintertime, your body’s increased efforts to regulate warmth and dryness from heated indoor air, both require additional fluid intake.
- Illnesses or health conditions: Fever, vomiting and diarrhea cause your body to lose additional fluids that must be replaced. Certain infections also increase your fluid intake needs. On the other hand, other conditions such as heart failure, some types of kidney, liver and adrenal diseases may actually require reductions in your fluid intake.
- Pregnancy and/or breast-feeding: As recommended by doctors, pregnant and/or breast-feeding women need additional fluids since large amounts of water are needed by the growing fetus and are lost during nursing.
- Traveling: When traveling on an airplane, it is probably a good idea to drink eight ounces of water for every hour you are on board the plane. As you can see, your daily need for water can add up to quite a lot.
- Other Beverages: Alcoholic beverages, and to some extent caffeinated beverages too, add to your daily water needs since both beverage types act as diuretics, meaning they encourage the body to lose more water faster than consumed.
* Note: It is possible to drink too much water
A condition known as hyponatremia (low sodium levels in the blood caused by too much water) has caused deaths. If you feel concerned about your fluid intake, or don’t know exactly how much you should be drinking each day, it is best to check with your doctor or a registered dietitian to help you determine the amount of water that is best for you. Keep in mind at least twenty percent or more of your body’s water needs will come from the foods you eat. The rest of your needs could be met from the beverages you drink.
Tips for Proper Hydration
Proper hydration does more than just keep you from getting thirsty. Hydration is the replacement of body fluids lost through sweating, exhaling and elimination. We need to replenish those fluids to avoid dehydration. It’s just as important to stay hydrated at the office, at home and at the gym.
Mild dehydration can cause feelings of lost energy and general illness. If fluids are not replaced quickly, severe and even life-threatening dehydration can occur. This is especially true in the very young and the elderly.
Signs and symptoms of dehydration include the following:
- MILD TO EXCESSIVE THIRST
- DRY MOUTH AND/OR DRY SKIN
- DIZZINESS, NAUSEA, AND/OR HEADACHE
- MUSCLE WEAKNESS
- DARKENED, LITTLE, OR NO URINATION
- INCREASED BODY TEMPERATURE
- LABORED BREATHING