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Are You Dehydrated?

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Older adults (65 years and older), infants and children and people with chronic medical conditions are more prone to heat-related health issues. Apart from air conditioning, the best defense against getting sick when it’s hot is to drink plenty of cool, nonalcoholic beverages – especially water. 

Here are the most common signs of dehydration:

Bad breath: If you’re dehydrated, your body can’t produce the daily two-to-four pints of salvia necessary to stay healthy. Salvia is the mouth’s major defense against tooth decay, and also helps to control the bacteria and other microorganisms that live in your mouth. Too little salvia can cause accelerated tooth decay, gum disease, oral sores and pain, bad breath and even interfere with your ability to taste. Bad breath or a dry, sticky mouth are both signs that you may be dehydrated.

Hunger: Mild dehydration can feel like hunger, when it’s really your body trying desperately to get you to give it fluids. If you’re getting snack attacks when the temperatures are high, try drinking a glass of water before you indulge in ice cream. By the way, dehydration can also slow your metabolism, so snacking instead of drinking water can also result in accelerated weight gain.

Fatigue/low energy: Feeling tired can be a sign of dehydration but can also indicate that your body wants to take it slow and easy in high temperatures. You may also find it difficult to sleep when its hot outside, resulting in fatigue. Whatever the cause, staying hydrated will help you feel better.

No Sweat: Sweating is our bodies way of cooling down and regulating our internal core temperature. If we aren’t hydrated, we stop sweating. This is dangerous, as our bodies can’t cool themselves off, raising the risk of heat exhaustion or heat stroke.

Dark colored urine: Clear or light-colored urine is a good indicator that you are well hydrated, a dark yellow or amber color is a signal of dehydration.

Dry skin: If you notice your skin feels tight, itchy, flaky or just plain uncomfortable, up your fluid intake. Dehydration manifests fairly quickly in skin, especially if you are often slightly dehydrated on a regular basis.

Headache: When you’re severely dehydrated your brain tissue loses water and your brain actually shrinks and pulls away from your skull. Additionally, dehydration also lowers the flow of oxygen and blood to the brain, causing blood vessels in the brain to dilate. Your brain – which is 80% water – responds to this alarming state by triggering pain receptors, which gives you a headache.

Apart from the symptoms above, another way that you can check your hydration is called the “pinch” test: Gently pinch the skin of the back of your hand so that it resembles a tiny tent and hold it for a few seconds, then release. If the little tent stays raised for more than 5 seconds, there’s a good chance that you are dehydrated.

Sometimes dry mouth is caused by a health condition or medication and can’t be managed simply by increasing your fluid intake. Regular dental care is so important if your mouth tends to be dry. A dentist can help you manage the condition and can also work with you to prevent any problems that can be caused by dry mouth. And if your budget doesn’t include dental visits, check out dental savings plans. You’ll be surprised how much you can save at the dentist with a plan!

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