Get Better, Faster – CT & RI Physical Therapy

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Drink When You’re Thirsty

Ever wonder if you are consuming enough water? If you are an athlete, you have most likely been told to drink plenty of fluids. If you recently had a professional massage, your therapist may have told you to drink plenty of fluids to rid your body of the toxins that were worked out of your tight, congested muscles. If you are into healthy concepts, you may need to drink eight glasses of water a day.

A serious lack of fluid intake may result in heat stroke, heart attack, exhaustion, leg cramps, and dehydration leading to hospitalization.

Many individuals do not want to be bothered with drinking fluids- and many suffer from moderate levels of dehydration. This is common among the elderly and those who experienced leg swelling. Some elders avoid drinking water because they feel it aggravates their incontinence. My advice is to drink and replenish during the day and avoid fluids after 6PM.

For those who have leg swelling due to other medical conditions, do not avoid fluid intake. Drinking fluids does NOT increase swelling in the lower legs, but it actually flushes your system.

Signs of low levels of dehydration include cracked dry skin, chapped lips, chipped fingernails and constipation.

It is possible to over hydrate the body. This condition is prevalent among endurance athletes, such as marathon runners. Some runners push the fluids so much that they overdo it, filling up at every water station, thus creating a situation called hyponatremia. This is where the sodium levels appear to drop below normal levels due to the indulging of water intake. This creates havoc on the blood levels in the circulatory system. Common side effects are lethargy, leg cramps, and exhaustion. Elite runners move too fast to take too much in.

My motto is moderation. Sip when thirsty. Also, do not ignore your thirst symptoms. If your mouth is dry, drink some water. Now that the weather is getting warmer, realize you are closing more fluids than during the cooler months. Do not wait until you are in the heat of summer before increasing your intake.

Start now.

As a daily rule, each person may have a water level capacity depending on their energy output. An athlete versus an elder may have different levels of water intake need.

One way to find out how much water an athlete needs to replenish is to weigh yourself before and after you exercise and then replenish only what you have lost. As for an elder, weigh yourself daily- same time, same sequence (i.e., before breakfast) each day to maintain a constant level.

Another way to site your hydration status is to pinch the skin on the back of your hand to see how quickly it retracts back to its original position. The faster it recedes, the better hydrated you are. If the pinched skin stays pinched for more than 2 seconds, you may need to adapt to a new level of fluid replacement to stay healthy and avoid side effects.

Proper fluid replacements include water, bottled water and such juices as lemonade. Improper fluids are alcoholic beverages, sodas, teas and coffees that due to the caffeine content that acts as a dehydrator. And seltzers may contain high levels of sodium.

Be sure to read the nutrition facts on labels. Another suggestion is to try giving your water a kick by adding a drop of lemon or lime to freshen it up.

If you still have questions, ask your physician, nurse, pharmacist or other health care professional. Remember, don’t hesitate, participate