Situations requiring elevated fluid intake

Our fluid intake requirements rise sharply in the situations listed below. In these cases it is essential to drink more than the 2 litres per day that are usually recommended.

  • During strenuous physical activity
  • When sweating profusely
  • During hot weather – drink even more if humidity is low!
  • During cold weather – drink even more if it’s windy as well!
  • During mental effort
  • In stressful periods
  • In case of fever
  • When taking medication
  • If you suffer from diabetes
  • If your diet is salty
  • In case of bladder and kidney problems
  • When constipated
  • In case of diarrhoea or vomiting
  • In case of burns
  • At high altitudes
  • In closed rooms with air conditioning
  • After large meals, especially with high-protein meat or cheese
  • When expecting or breastfeeding
  • When dieting or fasting
  • During or after sunbathing

What dehydration does to us

Certain bodily functions will drift out of sync if we lose water equivalent to just 1 to 2 per cent of our bodyweight (= dehydration). We will then start to notice the first symptoms, although we may not realise that they are due to lack of water. Dehydration is a harmful condition. Water is the principal constituent in our blood, and it loses the capacity to flow properly if we do not drink sufficient quantities. Nutrient supply to the entire body suffers as a result.

A few consequences of dehydration

  • Dry mouth and thirst*
  • Hunger (sometimes we just need water, not food!)
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Circulatory problems
  • Lack of concentration
  • Inattentiveness
  • Irritability
  • Forgetfulness
  • Drop in cognitive performance
  • Reduction in physical performance
  • Muscle weakness, even cramps
  • Constipation (in case of prolonged deficiency in fluid intake)
  • Digestive problems
  • Dark yellow urine
  • Dry mucosa, increasing the susceptibility to viral and bacterial infections
  • Elevated susceptibility for kidney stones and urinary tract infections

* Hunger transmits a warning signal before our bodies experience energy deficiency. But thirst is different: its warning signal means the body is already lacking water, and it’s already late in the day to replenish the body’s resources. So it is important to drink before we feel thirsty!

This is essential for older people, as the sense of thirst subsides with age. Senior citizens will therefore inevitably drink too little if they only take water when they already feel thirsty. Many do not even notice that they are not drinking enough. Often they have misperceptions as to how much liquid they require – or they simply forget to drink. The implications for their health can be serious.

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