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Are You More Dehydrated in Winter or in Summer

A while back, I started actually tracking how much water I was drinking because I was donating blood plasma pretty regularly.

On one visit, I had an issue, and the phlebotomist said it was because I was dehydrated.

What did they give me? A sports drink to balance my hydration.

I had known to drink water, but I didn't realize how much!

Fast forward to nowadays when it's so freaking hot out…112 today in Phoenix…(but it's a DRY heat!)…and I'm sure it feels worse elsewhere where there is a lot more humidity!

How Much Water Do You Drink Every Day?


Did you know that you can still be dehydrated even if you drink lots of water?

I sure didn't!

That can possibly happen when you're low on electrolytes, caffeine from coffee or soda has acted as a diuretic, or your body simply needs even more water! 

I usually keep tract of how much I drink, which averages 7 cups a day.

Yet I was still dehydrated one day last week when it got REALLY hot in my bedroom where I was working.

(Air conditioning only works well in the living room…very frustrating!)

I started getting a headache, and had some more water, but the headache was still there.

When the electricity went out because of a storm, that just compounded everything including the heat. When the electric came on & I started cooking, dizziness started.

It didn't make sense to me.

Here's something I didn't know before…not only can you lose electrolytes and fiber by sweating, but by drinking a lot of water…according to Dr. Natasha Trentacosta, M.D., a sports medicine specialist.


Water vs Electrolyte Beverage














 



Dehydration Isn't Just an Older Person Issue.


Even young kids, especially ones that participate in sports and/or wear a uniform during hot weather need to have their coach or parents keep track of their hydration.

What you need to know if you don't already, is that when you sweat, your body is sending blood flow to your skin, and the sweat is cooling your body.

When it does that, it is taking some of the blood flow away from your organs.

But when you run out of sweat, and stop sweating…(Yes, this can happen), your body…including your organs…start heating up.

I'm sure you've tasted sweat before, even if it was just dripping around your face during a workout.

It's salty, right?

When you sweat, you are losing sodium & potassium among other minerals, along with water, which all needs to be replaced.

Why Does Dehydration Increase Heart Rate?


Your blood consists of about 55% plasma, of which about 90% of that is water. When the water is sweat out, or lost from low humidity or even the heaters in our homes during winter, our blood becomes thicker. 

That makes it harder for our hearts to pump the blood through our bodies to our organs, and our heart rates go up.

I noticed when I took my blood pressure the night of the storm that my heart rate had gone up a full 20 beats per minute vs what it normally was earlier.

Sometimes, you may notice a slight headache. This could be happening because your blood vessels constrict when there is less blood flow, according to J. Timothy Lightfoot, PhD.

So, without replacing those minerals as well as your fluids, your body will have an imbalance, which is when, if you don't take care of it, you can have heat exhaustion and even heat stroke.


(Check a previous post  for info on heat exhaustion & heat stroke.)

It is possible for you to get hydration from your foods…such as fruits and veggies…they will provide you with minerals as well!

But especially if you are being active outside in the heat, your environment is hot, or even to avoid dehydration in winter, you really should consider enjoying a water supplement.

There are some out there…you might want to be careful to make sure that the drink doesn't have added sugar.

My favorite water supplement not only hydrates your body with electrolytes, but has ingredients to help keep your heart healthy. All with no added sugar.

How Do You Get Dehydrated in Winter?

In the summer, the heat and sweating causes dehydration, so it wouldn't be unusual to think that you'd be safe from having to worry about not drinking enough water during the winter.

Not so. A few things are going on that can cause winter dehydration.

  • There is lower humidity because the cold air doesn't hold the moisture as well. 
  • Heaters in our homes pull moisture from the air and our skin.
  • When we are cold, we don't become triggered by thirst as much because the cold diminishes our thirst reflex.
Dehydration and blood pressure


A study done at the University of New Hampshire explained further how dehydration happens in winter and how it affects your blood pressure.

We have a fluid-regulating hormone in our bodies called plasma argentine vasopressin (AVP). In normal conditions, as we start to dehydrate, two things start happening: 
  • Our sodium level increases in our body
  • Our overall blood volume decreases 
That causes our kidneys to slow down urine production when the hypothalamus is triggered by those two actions. This balances out our body fluid, while at the same time, our hypothalamus signals the brain to create that feeling of thirst. When we then have water, our sodium level is evened out.

However...during cold weather, our body reacts differently.

During cold weather, our bodies pull more of our blood from our arms and legs in order to keep our organs warm enough. Even though there is a decrease in blood levels in our peripheries, the higher levels in our core cause the AVP to not be triggered to be released at an increased rate.

Because of this, our kidneys get a smaller signal to conserve fluid, which reduces our thirst by 40%. 

And you know what happens when you get dehydrated...

Symptoms of Dehydration:

  • Headaches: Dehydration headaches happen when your brain temporarily pulls away from your skull because of contracting because of fluid loss. That description doesn't even sound good! 
  • Dry mouth
  • Fatigue
  • Not as much sweating or urinating
  • Urine is darker color...aim for nearly clear color
  • Dry skin...Do you get dry feet in winter?
  • Thirst...but keep in mind that especially in winter, you can be dehydrated and not thirsty.
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Bad moods 
  • Poor memory
One of my tips to avoid dehydration in both summer and winter is to get into a routine of drinking water or a water supplement at a certain time of day. 

You may want to consider keeping a chart and write down when you drink your water. There are days that go by so fast and I'm so busy that without seeing that chart, I just forget how long it's been since I had water. Plus seeing that you're on top of it feels good!  : )

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