Water accounts for more than half of the human body weight. When we lose more water than we take in, we run the risk of dehydration. How can we tell if we are dehydrated and how can this best be avoided?
Risk factors for dehydration
Sometimes dehydration occurs for simple reasons: You don't drink enough because you're sick or busy, or because you lack access to safe drinking water when you're traveling, hiking or camping.
Everyone’s water needs are different, and some people will be more at risk of dehydration than others, particularly those who:
- Live in hot climates
- Exercise vigorously
- Work or exercise outdoors in hot climates
- Have a fever - the higher the fever, the greater the risk of dehydration
- Are experiencing diarrhoea
- Are suffering from vomiting
- Are pregnant
- Are breastfeeding
- Are trying to lose weight
Mild to moderate dehydration can usually be reversed by drinking more fluids, but severe dehydration requires immediate medical treatment.
Tips to help stay hydrated
- Increase water intake during hot weather or when you're ill
- Keep a bottle of water with you during the day
- If you don’t like the taste of plain water, try adding a slice of lemon or lime to your drink
- Make an effort to hydrate before exercise, during exercise and after exercise
- When you’re feeling hungry, drink water. Thirst is often confused with hunger
- If you have trouble remembering to drink water, drink on a schedule. For example, drink a small glass of water at the beginning of each hour
- When socialising drink a glass of water between alcoholic drinks
If you are at risk of dehydration, don’t wait until you notice symptoms before you take remedial action. Actively prevent dehydration by drinking plenty of water.
If you are concerned that you are not drinking enough water, speak with your doctor or a registered dietitian, who will help you determine the amount of water that's right for you.