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Heat Wave – Don’t forget to stay hydrated!

Currently, large areas around the earth are being affected by an unexpected heat wave. While the temperatures and hours of daily sunshine have reached record levels in many places, having a cold drink is always a welcome refreshment, at least in the short term.

Staying sufficiently hydrated not only quenches thirst, but is essential during a heatwave. Depending on an individual’s stage of life, the human body consists of 50% to 75% of water, which fulfills different functions. As the main component of cell fluid, water is found in every single body cell. In addition, it is the basis of body fluid and is involved in transporting processes and thermoregulation. For this reason, the water balance of the body is finely regulated. However, in order to maintain this balance, our bodies need a continuous supply of water.

How much should you drink?

In general, fluid intake should be equal to your daily loss. The body loses around 2.5 liters of water per day in the form of sweat, urine and stools, as well as through breathing. Part of this need covers the water from the solid food and the so-called oxidation water, which is produced in the metabolism through the degradation of fats, proteins and carbohydrates. In addition to this, an adult should drink about 1.5 liters of fluid a day. However, it should be noted that the fluid intake is always dependent on external conditions and physical activity. At high temperatures, it is recommended to increase daily fluid intake by at least one liter. The same applies when exercising or during physical labor. Depending on the intensity, you should drink about 0.5 - 1 liter per hour. Healthy people tend to drink more than too little, as the excess fluid is simply excreted through the kidneys.


How do you notice dehydration?

Due to the ongoing heat wave, the number of patients in hospitals requiring treatment due to dehydration is increasing. However, if dehydration is detected early and countered accordingly, medical treatment is superfluous in most cases. Dehydration can be recognized quickly through its symptoms, such as fatigue, headaches, difficulty concentrating and a noticeable drop in performance. It is also characterized by dry skin and mucosa, dental marks on the tongue and skin folds that do not smooth out easily. In response to dehydration, the body reduces urine production and the urine turns dark. This highly concentrated urine can promote the formation of kidney stones in the long term. Also, an insufficient state of hydration promotes the development of constipation.

Insufficient hydration can lead to severe dehydration within a few days or exsiccosis and other potentially life-threatening conditions. This is seriously life threatening for elderly people. The causes of this are above all physiological changes in old age, such as a decrease in water reserves and kidney function as well as milder feelings of thirst. In addition, there are underlying diseases and possible side effects from medication, as well as other factors such as acute illnesses and high temperatures.
In older people, a lack of fluid can quickly lead to confusion and loss of consciousness and is one of the most common reasons for hospitalization. If left untreated, severe circulatory problems, kidney failure, seizures and even a coma may occur.

Controlling the water balance

Although many healthy adults do not keep adequately hydrated, their bodies can usually compensate for the deficiency. The situation is different for older and especially chronically ill people. For these people, drinking behavior and sufficient patient education plays a big role. In addition, they can benefit from regularly checking their state of hydration. The bioimpedance analysis, using seca mBCA, proves to be a suitable method. The proportion of total body water and the intracellular and extracellular accumulations of water can be measured quickly and noninvasively. With regard to primary care, the seca mBCA 525 has been developed. As a mobile device, it can be used as part of a home visit for patients. Signs of dehydration can be detected early and it is easy to take appropriate action ahead of time. This not only prevents the negative effects of dehydration, but improves overall health and quality of life.

Drinking right



Sufficient hydration should not be neglected as an important part of a balanced diet. If you have difficulty reaching the daily recommended drinking volume, your hydration can be planned. It is advisable to first note your daily liquid intake. In order to keep sufficiently hydrated, it can be useful to carry a water bottle with you and to drink a glass for each main and intermediate meal. Especially on warm days, drinks should always be in sight and reach.

Also the choice of drink is important. Water, unsweetened fruit and herbal teas or even mixed fruit spritzers, are the best thirst quenchers. Sugary drinks should be avoided as much as possible because the amount of sugar consumed can go unnoticed. Also coffee, black tea and green tea are viable options, although only in moderation as they do not help to quench thirst and act more as a stimulant. The same applies to alcoholic beverages that extract additional water from the body. 

Staying hydrated is important for people of all ages. Adequate drinking behavior contributes to your body’s long-term health and ensures that you stay fit through the warmest days of the year.

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