Healthy Nurse, Healthy Nation™ Blog - Is Your Hydration Lagging Behind This Summer?
Did you know your muscles and kidneys are 79% water? Your skin is 64% water, and 83% of your lungs are made of water, says the USGS Water Science School.
You are what you drink — or at least that’s kind of the case with water. But when the blazing hot summer months hit (like now), it can be difficult to drink enough fluids. Are you giving your body the hydration it needs?
Especially as busy nurses who barely have time for bathroom breaks, it’s hard to willingly chug that bottle of water. On the other hand, you know how important proper hydration is for your health.
“Since water is involved in almost every physiological function in the body (like electrolyte homeostasis, cardiovascular function, and thermoregulation), improper hydration can result in medical illness,” says Jason Stevenson, MS RDN CSSD LD/N, of Compass One Healthcare.
Think about it: Drinking enough water is one of the best things you can do for your mind, immune system, skin, and overall wellness. And be honest: How much better do you feel after you drink a nice, cold glass of water?
Proper hydration allows your body to:
- Maintain a normal temperature, keeping the body from overheating in warm weather
- Nourish the skin, our body’s external barrier and protector
- Cushion joints
- Protect the spinal cord and other sensitive tissues
- Get rid of waste through urination, sweating, and bowel movements
How to Know You Need More Water
While older adults, infants, and children are most at risk for not getting enough fluids, busy nurses who don’t find time to take a drink can be, too. Do you know if your hydration is lagging? One of the best indicators of the state of your hydration is the appearance of your urine.
“If you’re finding your urine to be on the dark or yellow side, it means you need to increase your fluids,” said Jason. “[Drink more water] until you observe a consistent pale-yellow color. If you are finding that your urine is consistently transparent, this may be a sign of overhydration and therefore [you] would need to back off on the fluids.”
Other signs your hydration is lagging this summer include:
- Cranky, anxious mood
- Dizziness or weakness
- Dry mouth and/or dry cough
- Flushed (red) skin
- Headaches or lightheadedness
How to Hack Your Hydration
If drinking enough water every day sounds challenging, you need some healthy, motivating, convenient ways to stay hydrated. Don’t turn to a quick fix, like a sports drink loaded with sugar and calories, to improve your hydration. It’s unnecessary and won’t offer extra benefits you can’t get from plain water.
“Unless you’re working up a sweat, spring water is likely sufficient for everyday hydration purposes,” said Jason. “Rarely do I recommend sports beverages for hydration purposes other than for people who are exercising. [And] I never recommend coconut water for hydration purposes, mainly because the potassium content can be rather high and displace sodium levels.”
This is on track with what the U.S. Centers for Disease Control recommends, too. When you’re working on your hydration, you should stay away from sugary or alcoholic drinks. Not only are they filled with unnecessary ingredients, but they can also cause you to lose more body fluid.
Water is what makes up most of our bodies, and it’s also what our bodies crave. Especially during the hot and humid summer months, give your body what it wants and needs. Mayo Clinic recommends drinking:
- 15.5 cups (124 ounces) a day for men
- 11.5 cups (92 ounces) a day for women
Most of all, don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink water. Sip on water throughout the day, even when you don’t feel thirsty.
As you work on maintaining proper hydration, keep a lookout for signs you may be overdoing it. Overhydration dilutes the amount of sodium in the bloodstream, leading to low levels (called hyponatremia), which can be dangerous. As Jason mentioned, transparent urine is a clear sign you’re overhydrated. Cut back on fluids until your urine gains more color.
Join Us for a Hydration Challenge
If drinking enough water each day is tough for you, we’re here to help. Join our 10-day hydration challenge to jazz up your hydration regimen. Each day features a tip to make your water consumption less boring, more enjoyable, and more attainable. Get started here.
RELATED: Debunking 4 Common Hydration Myths, DYK Certain Diets Can Cause Dehydration?
Reviewed and updated 8/2/23
Not a member of Healthy Nurse, Healthy Nation (HNHN) yet? Join us today!
Cherryl Hi! We usually run our Hydration Challenge in the summer. If you want to join our current challenge, Mindful Movement here's the link: Mindful Movement, powered by Humana - Healthy Nurse, Healthy Nation™ (healthynursehealthynation.org)
I like ice, but not really a fan of water. I put lemons or lemonade mixture in my water. It is the only way I can drink a glass of it. I would love to hear more about the 10 day water challenge.