The human body is composed of about two-thirds water. Water is in our blood, muscle tissue, bone marrow, lower layers of our skin, in our fatty tissues, as well in our stomachs. Water is the body’s lubrication and helps in its movement and function. Without water we’d be nothing more than dried bones and skin, and wouldn’t even exist.
Dehydration is the result of not having enough water in the body so that it can perform as it was designed to perform. The initial symptoms of dehydration are fairly easy to identify. A person who is dehydrated can experience headaches and mood changes, be lethargic and tired, have trouble concentrating, and has a slower response to external stimulus.
Unfortunately, many people don’t recognize the onset of dehydration and fail to take the necessary steps to prevent it and its results. In fact, many people think that when they are thirsty, with dehydration possibly setting in, that a soft drink or alcoholic beverage will cure the problem. There is nothing further from the truth in this kind of thinking. The dehydrating body needs water, not just any fluid, but only pure water. Fluids with caffeine, alcohol, or sugar will only make dehydration worse because these substances tend to cause even more water to be eliminated from the body.
Not treating dehydration correctly or further ignoring it can lead to more complicated mental and physical symptoms. Physically speaking the lips will dry and begin to crack, the urine will become dark, and the skin will become dry and papery and lose its elasticity. At this point there is danger that the internal organs can be damaged and treatment is of essential importance and the consumption of water is the cure.
However, the person dehydrated must also be careful about how fast they drink the water. A dehydrated person should not gulp down water as this could put the body into a state of temporary shock thus preventing it from the acceptance of further hydration. Instead, the dehydrated person must only sip the water initially, allowing the mouth and the throat to become moist and then slowly allowing the water down into the stomach area. This sipping should continue until the effects of dehydration have diminished substantially. And even then, gulping down water to cure the thirst should always be avoided, as too much water in too short of a time can in itself be dangerous.
Like with any other health issue, prevention is always the best medicine. If you are working out, out and about on a hot day, have young children or elderly in a hot climate, or are starting to feel a little less energetic than normal, especially in warm weather, it is wise to take frequent sips of water. The average adult needs approximately one quart of water per day to prevent the onset of dehydration.