Are you more dehydrated in the winter?
Anyone who has made it through an Iowa winter understands that they need two staples to make it through until spring: gallons of moisturizing cream and plenty tubes of lip balm. Although our state is known for it’s humidity, the air can become increasingly dry in winter months, leaving Iowans exposed to a real health consequence: dehydration.
Dehydration happens when there is not enough water in the body to function regularly. It can happen to anyone of any age and any lifestyle. And sometimes, the warning signs are easy to dismiss.
You may be familiar with the feeling of intense thirst, which is usually the first symptom people think of when they hear the word ‘dehydrated’. However, dehydration can manifest itself throughout the body and can very easily sneak up on us if we are not intaking enough fluids day-to-day. Here are the hallmark symptoms:
- dry skin
- chapped lips
- bloody noses
- dark colored urine
- passing urine less often than usual
- rapid heartbeat or heart palpitations
- feeling unusually unfocused or confused
- extreme thirst
If you find that any of these symptoms are especially affecting you, it may be a good idea to visit with a provider. Call 712-476-8100 to schedule a clinic appointment, or visit Hegg’s 24/7 Emergency Department if your symptoms are extreme.
Dehydration Treatment and Prevention
There are several ways to you can prevent becoming dehydrated in the winter:
- Stay adequately hydrated. This one may seem obvious, but it is often easier said than done. The best way to ensure your body is adequately hydrated is to make water a priority throughout the day. The current standard for daily water intake for adult men is about 3.7 liters a day and 2.7 liters for women. There are more accurate online calculators that can be used to determine your ideal daily water intake based on your body weight, age, and other factors. If you exercise or work in a productive environment where you are often physical or sweat frequently, you should drink more water. Find a bottle to keep with you that helps you measure your daily water goals if you find accountability difficult. (For instance, get a liter bottle and make sure you refill and drink the whole bottle two-three times during the day.)
- Use a humidifier. Humidifiers are great wintertime companions for the simple fact that they can boost humidity indoors. As homes heat up during the winter, they can become susceptible to dry air from the heating unit. Humidifiers are portable devices that can be plugged in anywhere in the home and are fairly affordable in general. You can use them in the rooms you spend the most time in for maximum effect, such as your bedroom and living area.
- Heal your skin by using moisturizing creams. Dry skin can become irritable and even painful if it begins to bleed. Make your skin smoother by applying a cream to especially dry areas every day. The ingredients in skin creams act as water absorbents, helping the skin to heal.
Being aware of the dehydrating effects our environment has on us is the first step in staying healthy over the winter and preventing dehydration. Your body will thank you for it!