Dehydration happens when water loss is not compensated by water intake. It could happen because you do not drink enough to meet the daily requirements of 1.5 l and/or when you experience excessive fluid loss, due to intense physical activity, a very hot climate or illness involving fever or diarrhoea.
Dehydration is a common problem. In particular, surveys conducted in some European countries show that children do not drink enough water, especially at school, as they depend on caregivers for access to fluids. (UK, Germany and Italy) (1)
Based on clinical trials on adults, scientists have identified that dehydration has an impact on physical (2) and mental performance (3).
Consequences of mild dehydration (a loss of 1-2% of body weight) include thirst, tiredness, headaches and a decrease in alertness, concentration and memory as well as loss of endurance and sport skills.
- (1) Fadda et al. Washington, DC. November 2008
- (2) Shirreffs (2005). Nutr Reviews 63: S14-S21
- (3) Ritz and berrut (2005). Reviews 63: S6-S13
Dehydration can be avoided by drinking the recommended daily amount of water.
When we feel thirsty, dehydration has already set into a certain degree. So, everyone should drink regularly throughout the day, before they even feel thirsty.
We should always keep in mind that infants have special water requirements. Why?
- Because their bodies contain relatively more water than adults’ bodies
- Because they have a higher skin surface/body volume ratio
- Because they excrete a more diluted urine due to their immature kidneys.
- Because it’s also more difficult for them to communicate their thirst.
Elderly people, too, should be especially aware of the importance of drinking enough water mainly because the sensation of thirst diminishes with age, and their renal abilities decrease as well.
Tips to prevent dehydration:
- Don’t wait until you are thirsty to drink, you’re already dehydrated! A good habit is to sip water all along the day
- Keep in mind that some people depend on others to drink: babies, sick people and the elderly.
Other tips for hydration:
Infants - Children - Adults - Pregnant or breast-feeding women - Elderly people - Men and women exercising
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