HYDRATING IN THE WINTER IS IMPORTANT!
By: Morgan Huston, MS
When you think of dehydration, no one really thinks of winter. You think of hot spring afternoons or sweltering summer days when you sweat through shirts and can physically see yourself becoming dehydrated. However, dehydration is a problem that needs to be on your mind year-round.
Our bodies need fluids to function. When you do not have enough, your body starts to shut itself down. So why is it that our body is better at telling us that we need fluid in the summer than in the winter? For some people, it comes down to the fact that they simply don’t feel as thirsty in the winter, so it is not on their minds to drink. Others are under the assumption that if you are not sweating, then you are not losing fluids in your body that needs to be replenished. This is a very off base assumption. Our body naturally loses fluids/moisture every day. Even if you are not sweating, water needs to be replaced throughout the day. During the winter months, the air is drier and requires our lungs to work harder to humidify and warm the air for breathing. When your body works harder it needs more hydration. Also, the increase in the amount of clothing being worn and the speed at which it evaporates off your skin can make it very deceiving as to how much you are really sweating. One of the last reasons that people don’t keep hydrated throughout the winter is simple: they don’t think of dehydration in the winter. Most people think of cold stress and keeping warm, but not keeping hydrated. There is less emphasis overall about hydration during the cold months than there is during the warm months and it can slip people’s minds.
Signs of dehydration are easy to recognize and include the following:
- Extreme thirst
- Less frequent urination
- Dark-colored urine
If you start to recognize any of these symptoms, it is important to start immediately hydrating.
So how can we combat winter dehydration? First, be aware that just because it becomes cold does not mean that you should be drinking any less. Fluids need to be replenished in the winter just the same as they do in the summer during physical activity. You may not be as thirsty in the winter as you are in the summer. Keep that in the forefront of your mind and keep hydrating throughout the day. You should be drinking the same amount during the winter as you are during the summer. Water is the best hydrator, but in colder temperatures, hot tea can be a good substitute. Coffee and soda are caffeinated, so they will not help with hydration. So as the winter months continue, and the temperature starts to drop, don’t let hydrating slip your mind.
For more information about dehydration: