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Are you Dehydrated?

By: Dr. Elizabeth Braley, PT, DPT, OCS, CSCS

Are you suffering from constipation, a foggy memory, headache, unstable mood, decreased energy, suppressed immune system, slowed metabolism, abnormal appetite, dizziness, joint pain, muscle cramps, or decreased exercise performance? If so, your hydration level could be contributing.

Adult bodies are about 60% water depending on age and sex. Children are closer to 70% water. Hydration is important in the function of the brain, heart, muscles, digestion… all our systems!

The reasons people are dehydrated vary from a busy schedule to not enjoying water. Some people restrict fluid to decrease bladder urgency or leakage. However, concentrated urine can cause irritation of the bladder and increase problems with urinary urgency or frequency.

A very rough estimation of fluid intake is half of your body weight (pounds) in ounces. For example, a 150-pound person should have 75 oz of fluid per day. At least 2/3 of the fluids should be water. Caffeine, soda and alcohol are not effective in improving your hydration levels because they are diuretics (remove water from the body) and can be bladder irritants.

As you drink more you may expect to use the bathroom more. I recommend increasing fluid intake gradually. It may take a few weeks for your body to adjust to this ‘new normal’ level of hydration. Increased fluid intake should not result in going to the bathroom every hour. Shoot for going to the bathroom every 2-3 hours during the day. We recommend about 5-8 times total during the day. Hydration early in the day is a great way to get the day started off right. Avoid drinking a lot the last couple hours before bed to decrease the changes of needing to use the bathroom in the night.

Your hydration levels may be impacting your rehabilitation, so don’t be shy discussing this with your therapist. After all, the muscles you are working to strengthen are made mostly of water!


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