The typical signs of dehydration include fatigue, dry mouth, legs heavy or cramping, and often a headache. When our bodies are under physical stress we lose body fluids in the form of sweat. Dehydration and early fatigue result when we do replace fluid lost through sweat. This loss of body fluid can cause impairment of our performance up to negatively impacting cognitive skills. Therefore, it must be a priority to manage fluid intake when working or exercising in hot conditions.
Dehydration can easily be prevented when you we take the following points into consideration.
• Fluid intake frequency: Drink before starting work. Attempting to catch-up on lost fluids while working is very difficult, therefore, drink before getting thirsty. Once you realize you are thirsty dehydration is already setting in. The solution is to drink at regular intervals especially when it is hot and humid.
• The drinks of choice: Water is critical to staying hydrated. Others beverages that contain a mild flavor and small amounts of sodium are encouraged. Sports drink such as Gatorade and Powerade are also great choices for helping stay hydrated. It is recommended that intake of sports drinks be balanced with water to prevent an upset stomach.
• What not to drink: While we are working or exercising it is recommended that we avoid drinks that contain alcohol, caffeine or high levels of sugar such as soft drinks and fruit juices. These type fluids are slow to absorb and can potentially cause an upset stomach.
A very good question to ask at this point is how much should I be drinking? The answer is difficult as it depends on the person and the environment. However, a very rule of thumb is that if you are not urinating – you are not drinking enough to remain hydrated.