In honour of “World Water Day” on 22nd March, I have highlighted the most important facts about water consumption and lack of it – dehydration.
Water is all around us and even in us! About 70% of the Earth’s surface is covered with water and approximately 55-60% of an adult human body is water. You may be asking yourself what this magical thing is! A water molecule has only three atoms: two hydrogen (H) atoms and one oxygen (O) atom, which is why it is sometimes referred to as H2O.
Have you ever wondered why we actually need water? Well, the simple answer is: to survive. However, needless to say, it is a lot more complicated than that. The body uses water in many ways: water cushions and lubricates joints; nourishes and protects the brain, spinal cord and other tissues; keeps the body's temperature normal; and helps remove waste through perspiration, bowel movements and urination.
The body needs water to work properly and to avoid dehydration. That’s why it's important to drink enough fluids. In climates such as the UK's, we should drink about 1.2 litres (six to eight glasses) of fluid every day to stop us getting dehydrated. In hotter climates, the body needs more than this.
Keeping hydrated is important. It is recommended that 6-8 glasses of water or other fluid are consumed every day to replace normal water loss, rather than to obtain any broader health benefits.
It’s healthy! Water is a healthy and cheap choice for quenching your thirst at any time. It has no calories and contains no sugars that can damage teeth. Plain tea, fruit tea and coffee (without added sugar) can also be healthy.
You can measure your body’s hydration by checking the colour of your urine during the day. Your urine should be pale yellow in colour.
Dehydration means your body loses more fluids than you take in and can lead to serious complications if left untreated, especially in children and the elderly. Dehydration can easily occur as a result of excessive alcohol consumption, heatstroke, fever, vomiting and diarrhoea and excessive sweating after exercise. Diabetics are also particularly susceptible to dehydration.
Some symptoms of dehydration may include; thirst, dark yellow urine with a strong odour, dizziness/light-headedness, fatigue, dry mouth, lips and eyes. If you feel any of these symptoms you must rehydrate by drinking water as soon as possible. Sometimes, it may not be possible to keep water in due to vomiting – the best thing to do in a case like this is to take small sips as often as you can. It can help to sip with a small spoon or a straw to avoid huge gulps. Once you can hold water down, try and gradually drink more if you can.
If you're being sick or have diarrhoea and are losing too much fluid you need to put back the sugar, salts and minerals that your body has lost. Your pharmacist can recommend oral rehydration sachets. These are powders that you mix with water and then drink. You can call our pharmacists on 0203 630 1244 for advice.