Easy to do, but easy to forget.
This subject was addressed two years ago, but it is important and deserves a re-visit.
Water: How much should you drink every day? According to doctors at the Mayo Clinic this is a simple question but there is no easy answer. While it is agreed water is a must, studies have produced varying recommendations for adults. Moreover, individual water needs depend on health, activity, and environment. To be sure what is best for you it would be a good idea to check with your doctor. Barring any special needs, the following is advised for most.
But first, why do we need water? The answer to that is simple. Water makes up 60% of body weight. Every cell, tissue, and organ in your body needs water to work properly. You need water. That’s a “No Brainer”! If you don’t have enough and if this deficiency persists bad things will happen.
Drinking 5 to 8 glasses of water each day is a simple way to avoid the risk of dehydration for an otherwise healthy person with a normal diet. When you use an 8 ounce glass, this means 40 to 64 ounces of water. You should do this thirsty or not!
OK, we all need water but how much? The answer to that question is the not so simple part. A good place to start is with the widely held but not universal amount and this is about 8 eight ounce glasses of water each day. Provided a person has normal food intake, some say that just 5 eight ounce glasses of water is enough. The reason for this difference is that water comes in most foods we eat and with a normal diet this makes up about 20% of our water intake. For the record, watermelon is nearly 100% water! Other sources of water are: coffee and tea, fruit drinks, sport drinks, carbonated beverages, milk and there are more. However, regardless of other sources of water intake, drinking between five and eight glasses of water for the average person, in addition to what you may be getting from the food you eat, ensures that you will have enough water without the danger of having too much.
How is this goal best achieved? The intentional drinking of water, whether you are thirsty or not, is a good place to start. While doing this it is a good idea to keep track of your water intake. This can be accomplished by drinking a glass or two of water at set times of the day. If you are perspiring heavily a drink like Gatorade, which has supplemental electrolytes, is a good idea. Energy drinks contain water but their purpose is to deliver caffeine to boost mental and physical performance and sugar providing energy. These may not be a plus for the typical senior.
Based on a self-appraisal, your fluid intake is probably adequate if the following is true: you rarely feel thirsty, your urine is colorless or pale yellow, and you are not afflicted by the following symptoms of clinical dehydration that include:
• dry mouth and/or dry skin
• rapid heart rate (usually over 100 beats per minute)
• low systolic blood pressure with dizziness on standing abruptly (orthostatic hypotension)
• weakness, pain, and cramping in the large muscles of the leg (hamstrings on the back of the thigh, and calf) causing difficulty walking
• sunken eyes
• less frequent urination and dark urine
• chronic tiredness and lethargy
A great deal of information on this subject can be obtained by googling: elderly, water, dehydration. You will read that caffeine in large amounts causes water loss, but the salutary effect of one cup outweighs the risk. Issues of continence can lead to purposely limiting water intake but using incontinence protection should outweigh incurring the risk of the complications of dehydration.
And remember, fluid is lost daily from the lungs, skin, and respiratory tract as well as excreted with feces. It can’t be measured but it is estimated to be between 2 and 20 ounces each day.
If you have any of the above signs and symptoms, or just don’t feel up to par, take stock of your water intake and if you are drinking less than 5 to 8 generous glasses of water a day, increase your intake to reach those numbers.
Monitoring and, if indicated, increasing your water intake is something that you can do on your own. This healthful preventive measure has little if any downside. Finally, if you have any lingering questions or concerns you should consult your health care professional.
By The Editors
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