How to stay hydrated - and why we should drink more water

November 23, 2012 Howard L. (Jack) West, MD


When people think of the Pacific Northwest, they often think of rain. Especially during non-summer months, water never seems to be in short supply in our region. So it seems strange that many of us aren’t getting as much water as our bodies need.

Every cell and tissue in your body needs water to survive and without it, you could be left high and dry. Thirst is the first sign that your body is dehydrated which means we should be drinking water even before we think we need it.

What are other signs of dehydration?

Your urine is the best gauge for determining how hydrated you are. The lighter it is, the more hydrated you are. If you don’t have to go very often, that’s a sign that your body needs more water. Other signs include:

  • Dry skin
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Feeling tired

Any of those sound familiar? You may think it’s just a sign of getting older or being stressed at work when in fact, you may be dehydrated. Try drinking more water throughout the day and see if you feel peppier.

Aside from thirst, our bodies don’t have the same signals for dehydration as they do when we’re hungry. (Your stomach probably won’t growl if you need water.) So how do you prevent dehydration when it’s hard to even know when you need water? Here are some quick tips:

  • Keep a filled water bottle with you at all times

    • Being able to see it will help remind you to sip from it throughout the day (which is better than drinking a lot all at once)

  • Don’t like the taste of water? Jazz it up with sugar-free drink mixes or a slice of lemon

    • Be creative and add other fruits and veggies like cucumber, lime or oranges

  • Try decaffeinated and herbal teas (caffeine drinks like black tea and coffee will dehydrate you)

    • For every cup of coffee (or other caffeine drink) you have, drink a glass of water
  • Experiment with other fluids with “electrolytes,” which help your body absorb water

    • Avoid high calorie, sugary drinks like some sports drinks and juices

There are small steps we can take each day to make sure we’re getting the fluids our bodies need to stay healthy. Test the water and try these tips.

Dehydration is not an issue to take lightly so if you notice you or a loved one (particularly children or older adults) suffering from serious symptoms, seek medical care right away. Although our outsides may be getting drenched this time of year, we still need to take care to keep our insides hydrated.


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