Next to oxygen, water is the most important nutrient your body needs to function properly. Water, which makes up nearly 70 percent of the human body, plays a vital role in nearly every bodily function, including:
- regulating temperature,
- carrying nutrients throughout the body,
- improving the digestive process, and
- eliminating waste
Without proper fluid intake, the body becomes dehydrated. Untreated severe dehydration can lead to seizures, permanent brain damage, and even death. Seniors need to take special precautions because their thirst mechanism is not as sensitive as it once was.
Nutrition experts at Hebrew Rehabilitation Center recommend the following tips for getting enough fluid during the day:
- Drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of liquid every day.
- Limit caffeinated and alcoholic beverages, which increase your body’s fluid needs.
- Drink throughout the day, not only when you are thirsty.
- Carry bottled water with you if you’ll be outdoors for an extended period of time.
- Drink water before, during, and after physical exercise to offset the fluid your body loses through perspiration.
- Keep track of your fluid intake throughout the day to ensure you stay properly hydrated.
In addition, Hebrew Rehabilitation Center experts say that you should think about the types of fluids you like to drink and have them available in the house.
Watch out for these heat-related illnesses:
Heat stroke occurs when the body is unable to regulate temperatures, sometimes rising sharply to 106 or more degrees Fahrenheit. It can cause death or permanent disability if not treated immediately. Warning signs include:
- High body temperature
- Red, hot, dry skin with no sweating
- Rapid, throbbing pulse
Heat exhaustion is a milder heat-related illness and can develop a few days after heat exposure because of unbalanced fluids. Most at risk are the elderly, people with high blood pressure, and people working or exercising outdoors. Symptoms include:
- Heavy sweating
- Headache, nausea or vomiting