Dehydration in winter: Signs and precautions

Anam Shahid Nov 05 2015
prevent winter dehydration

As winter arrives, so does a change in our daily life routine and body system. The boots, coats and gloves come out because of the cold weather and we start consuming more coffee to enjoy the weather. But, we forget an important factor that exists no matter what may be the season. Be it summer or winter, hydration is a vital aspect we must keep check on for ourselves.

People fail to realize the dangers of dehydration and often associate it with just summer and heat but here’s a catch – you can actually become dehydrated as easily in winter as you do in summer days. Winter dehydration is more harmful because fewer people acknowledge the understanding of staying hydrated in winter and know the signs of dehydration. After all, up to 70% of a person’s body weight is water, and it only takes a one to two per cent drop in that amount to cause dehydration.

So how does dehydration take place in a season like winter, when we are sweating less and are under cooler temperatures? In winter, dehydration speeds up because when we tend to breathe, we are breathing air that has become cold and dry. Our bodies tend to function harder to dampen the air we breathe to make it warmer, thus leading to more intake of water to stay hydrated.

Dehydration, no matter what the season, can cause the following:

  • Exhaustion
  • Muscle Fatigue
  • Cramps
  • Loss of coordination/blackouts
  • Possibility of strokes

SIGNS OF DEHYDRATION

Mild-to moderate dehydration can be identified with dry mouths, tiredness, thirst, decreased urine output, dry skin, headache, constipation and dizziness. Severe dehydration, on the other hand, can be spotted when there is little to no urination, extreme thirst, sunken eyes, shriveled/dry skin, low blood pressure, rapid heartbeat, rapid breathing, fever and delirium.

Winter also makes a person lazy as the days are longer, so it’s harder to keep extra pounds off as we don’t drink sufficient amount of water – which is at least eight glasses a day. Staying hydrated not only makes you more active mentally but also helps you to function more actively in winter. Our mouths dry up much more easily in winter than any other season which should automatically increase the amount of water we in-take daily. Blood viscosity also accelerates as the temperature starts to drop. Our heart then works harder to pump in more blood to reach to our limbs, and an edge of this could possibly be, not having enough oxygen to breathe.

PRECAUTIONS

Therefore, like all solutions, these problems can also be tackled if the following precautions be followed;

1) One rule of thumb is to aim to drink half of your body weight in fluid ounces – that means a 140-pound woman should aim to drink 70 ounces of water per day.

2) Try drinking more decaffeinated liquids as caffeine and alcohol can cause more water loss through more urine passage.

3) Have more liquids than solids, even in fruits and vegetables you have some natural source of water. After all it is the season of soups!

4) Avoid having too much sodium. Salty foods can make you thirstier and also cause bloating.

5) Choose the right type of clothing, as sweating does not simply stop with the winter season and can cause problems for you.

6) While exercising, keep filling your body up with water, as it may be cold but it also means drier air.

7) To make water more appealing, add natural flavors to it.

In winter, it becomes easy to skip on the thought of drinking water, as you are less likely to feel thirsty psychologically. The consequences of not paying attention to dehydration can be severe as it can increase hypothermia, frostbite and fatigue levels.

Hence, one should pay heed to the precautions and bound themselves accordingly, to drink and eat sufficiently and avoid dehydration in winter.

Anam Shahid

Anam Shahid:

Anam has always been fond of writing and fiddling with words which allows her to not only express herself but pass them beyond. Graduating as a media student at ICMS, creativity comes to her pieces on its own.