And the Impact of Overexertion on Your Health
Dehydration happens when our bodies do not consume enough water or fluids to account for the lost water.
Water is essential for the cells and organs in our bodies to function, allowing us to engage in complex activities such as playing sports and even processes we don’t think about, such as breathing.
When humans drink enough water, we feel good-our muscles cramp up less when we exercise, our brains perform faster cognitive calculations, and we digest our food more efficiently and effectively.
The human body is, after all, comprised of 60% water, so water is critical to a healthy and productive lifestyle.
But what happens when humans do not drink enough water?
How does a deficit in water intake affect our bodily functions, behaviors, and health?
What Is Dehydration?
Dehydration happens when our bodies do not consume enough water or fluids to account for the lost water.*
Although our bodies process and lose water at a baseline rate that generally aligns with our metabolism, we can lose fluids at higher rates when we are sick, exercising, sweating heavily, or suffering from other conditions that result in the loss of excess amounts of water.
What Causes Dehydration?
According to the Mayo Clinic, there are a variety of ways our bodies can lose excess amounts of fluids:
Exercising and Sweating: People often become thirsty engaging in sports, which is the body’s way of saying it needs more water to hydrate the muscles and cells. Hot weather and humidity also cause the body to sweat, thus losing fluids through our pores.
Vomiting or Diarrhea: When we vomit or have diarrhea, the body loses significant amounts of fluids and electrolytes.
Fever: When you have a fever, your body temperature increases, thus putting strain on your internal organs and tissues to work harder. As a result, fevers are known to cause dehydration by requiring the body to process water at a higher rate than normal.
Increased Urination: Conditions such as diabetes, other illnesses, and even some medications can cause increased urination, resulting in losing fluids faster than normal.
Drinking Alcohol: When you drink alcohol, you also increase the body's rate of urinating. If you don’t replace the fluids you’ve lost, even a few drinks may lead to dehydration.
What Are the Symptoms of Dehydration?
People at any age can become dehydrated, and since younger children and infants might not be able to vocalize or recognize when they are thirsty, it is important to take note of the various symptoms attributed to dehydration.
When humans feel thirsty, they are already dehydrated, so the ability to recognize other associated symptoms might help you rehydrate sooner.
Signs of Dehydration in Adults:
- Muscle fatigue
- Reduced cognitive processing
- Confused or dazed states of awareness
- Infrequent urination and dark-colored urine
- Dry mouth
Signs of Dehydration in Children and Infants:
- Easily irritable
- The top of the skull has a sunken soft spot
- Tearless crying
- Dry tongue and dry mouth
- Sunken cheeks and eyes
- Infrequent urination (no wet diapers for three hours)
How to Treat Dehydration
Individuals who experience mild dehydration can be treated simply by consuming enough fluids to replace the amount lost by the body.
Read the below tips on how to stay hydrated.
Note: Severe dehydration calls for immediate medical treatment due to the deficient levels of water and oxygen in the bloodstream, and you should consult medical personnel to act quickly to avoid damage to tissues or vital organs.
How to Avoid Dehydration
Since the body is already dehydrated when thirsty, it is essential to remember to drink water throughout the day, even when we do not think we need it. Here are some tips to keep optimal hydration:
- Aim to drink 64 oz. of water daily without heavy exercise or sun/heat exposure.
- According to Harvard Medical School, most healthy people should drink between four to six cups of water daily. However, this amount may vary based on the individual.
- Drink from a refillable and reusable water bottle to keep track of the amount you drink at work, traveling, or even at home. Brita® offers a variety of reusable filter water bottles that are not only designed to help you hydrate throughout your busy day, but also filter out the impurities found in household tap water.
- When water tastes good, you’ll drink more of it. Check out these fun recipes to enhance the taste of your water.
- Eat your water! Apples, cantaloupe, watermelon, cherry tomatoes, oranges, celery, and carrots help you stay hydrated.
- Please don’t overdo it! Although unusual, it is possible to become ill by drinking too much water or other fluids.
- Start each day with a glass of water (no ice).
- Drink it before you have coffee, tea, or juice. It will help replace fluids lost overnight and get your hydration efforts off to a good start.
- Establish regular water breaks during your work day (e.g., before or after each meeting).
- Cook with high-quality sea salt. Unrefined sea salt is rich in trace minerals which aid cell health and hydration.
- Stay hydrated while traveling by drinking plenty of water the morning of your trip before you get on a plane, and avoid or minimize caffeine, sugar, and alcohol drinks while in the air.
Overexertion can occur when you push yourself too hard physically.
It is the third most common cause of accidental injuries in the United States.
It can cause inflammation, leading to pain and discomfort.
If it is not addressed, overexertion can lead to tearing or overstretching in muscles, tendons, and ligaments.
The most common types of overexertion injuries are in the shoulders, back, and knees. However, you can also get them in other parts of the body.
How Overexertion Happens
There are a few different ways you can overexert your muscles.
Overexertion can happen at home or at work.
Any time you are lifting something or doing an unusual physical activity, you should pay attention to how you are moving your body.
The most common industries for overexertion injuries are the service industry and trade industries, along with transportation and utilities.
However, the events and activities that may cause overexertion are different for everyone. You must listen to your body and know your limits.
If you are doing a physical task or lifting something with bad posture, you may be more at risk for injury.
Working in an improper space.
If you do not have enough room to move properly for the task at hand, you can injure yourself.
Carrying too much weight.
Be mindful if you're not used to carrying heavy loads. When you carry something that is over your capacity, you are at risk of overexertion.
Using worn-out tools. When tools become worn out, you may have to hold them improperly or use more force.
Repetitive motion. Doing the same movement over and over without enough break time puts you at a higher risk of overexertion.
The Impact of Overexertion on Your Health
The most common overexertion injuries affect the neck and back, often contributing to chronic pain in the upper and lower back.
If you get an overexertion injury, you can be at a higher risk for re-injury, even after you have healed. This can affect both your personal and professional life in the following ways:
- You may need to take time off work to allow for healing.
- While working a physical job, you may need to perform a different job function while you are healing.
- You must practice safe form while playing sports and working out.
Using proper lifting and work techniques can keep you healthy so you can enjoy physical activity in all areas of life.