The Importance of Staying Hydrated
An ice-cold glass of water on a hot summer day is a refreshing way to beat the heat. But water is much more than a thirst quencher. It makes up two-thirds of your body and provides many vital functions.
Hydration plays many essential roles in keeping your body healthy. One of the best ways to stay hydrated is drinking enough water.
Benefits of drinking water include:
- Aids digestion
- Balances your electrolytes
- Carries nutrients and oxygen to your cells
- Helps regulate your blood pressure
- Lubricates your joints
- Maintains your body temperature
- Prevents constipation
- Stabilizes your heartbeat
Dangers of Dehydration
If you don’t have enough water and fluid, your body becomes dehydrated. This occurs if you don't drink enough, you lose too many fluids or both. Mild dehydration can usually be taken care of by increasing your fluid intake. Try sucking ice cubes, sipping water or drinking a beverage with added electrolytes when you need a hydration boost. Severe dehydration may require a hospital stay with intravenous (IV) fluids.
If left untreated, dehydration worsens and causes serious health consequences, including permanent brain damage, seizures or even death.
The symptoms of dehydration can vary based on how severe it is. Common symptoms include:
- Cool, dry skin
- Dark yellow urine
- Dry mouth
- Muscle cramps
- Reduced urination
Get medical help immediately if you:
- Become confused or disoriented
- Experience a rapid heartbeat
- Have difficulty breathing
- Stop urinating
Refill Your Glass Often
There is no official standard for how much water you should drink every day. Recommendations vary according to your age, sex, weight, activity level, medical condition and whether you’re pregnant or breastfeeding.
Your daily fluid intake is the amount of fluids you consume from food and beverages throughout the day. It comes from various sources. But plain drinking water is one of the best ways to make sure you're fully hydrated.
Here are five tips from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to help you increase your water intake and hydrate healthily:
- Add a taste to your plain water with a wedge of lemon, lime or cucumber. It’ll liven up the flavor without adding calories or sugar.
- Choose water over sugar-filled juices or soda.
- Drink water with your meals. You’ll reduce your daily calorie count and save money when eating out.
- Keep filled, freezer-safe water bottles in the freezer for convenient, portable ice water at a moment’s notice.
- Keep water easily accessible throughout the day. Keep a water bottle close, drink from it regularly and refill often as you go through your day.
If water just won’t do, focus on beverages that don’t contain a lot of added fat or sugar. Stick to low-fat or fat-free milk, unsweetened plant-based milk alternatives or a splash of juice in plain sparkling water.
Call (866) MY-LI-DOC (866-695-4362) to find a Catholic Health physician near you. Explore Catholic Health's comprehensive services and programs.