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Dehydration: 4 Conditions Made Worse by Thirst

July 14, 2020 | By: Dr. Katherine Voss

Those of us in good health may see life as a glass half full. But if we want to stay healthy, that glass should be empty.

Water makes up two-thirds of the human body, so we need to keep the liquid flowing. Good hydration is necessary to balance salts and sugars, to lubricate joints and – importantly – to flush out waste and toxins via the urinary system.

When temperatures rise, we can sweat wellness right out of our pores. Dehydration, if unaddressed, can contribute to bacterial growth, reduce metabolism, and compromise organ function in the urology system.

These 4 Conditions are Especially Vulnerable to Heat

These conditions can sometimes worsen with dehydration:

  • Kidney stones: If your body is dehydrated, it is less likely to produce enough urine to carry out salts, calcium, and uric acid from the kidneys. In time, these minerals can form into stones, which can result in blood in the urine, pain on the side and back, and a frequent urge to urinate.
  • Bladder inflammation: Because dehydration concentrates the urine, resulting in a high level of minerals, it can irritate the lining of the bladder and cause painful bladder syndrome, or interstitial cystitis. Frequent, urgent urination and pelvic pain are common symptoms.
  • Urinary tract infections: When bacteria grows in the urine and is not adequately flushed out, it will cause an infection in the urinary tract. UTIs are common – as many as 50% of women experience one at some point – and are often signaled by burning urination, lower abdominal pain, and cloudy urine.
  • Kidney failure: Of course, kidney failure can be a result of many conditions but it’s important to know that dehydration slows the body’s metabolism. Since the kidneys are part of our metabolic system, if metabolism starts to shut down, it could weaken and break down muscle tissues in the kidneys. Symptoms, including weakness, nausea, and changes in urination frequency, could indicate a serious kidney condition.

Ready to Fill that Glass Again?

Here are three bonus tips to staying hydrated in the summer:

  • Wear sun protection. Sunburn limits the body’s ability to cool itself, so bring a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen to outings. If sweating, sunscreen may need to be reapplied more frequently.
  • Be cautious with alcohol. Alcohol is a diuretic and will therefore speed up dehydration. Drinks should be alternated with water and limited in prolonged heat.
  • Check medications. Some prescriptions, including beta blockers and antidepressants, can interfere with the body’s ability to respond to heat and remain hydrated. Always discuss with your physician.

This summer, keep filling that glass with water or other low-sugar, low-caffeine beverages. The rule of thumb in normal conditions is to drink half of your body weight in ounces of water daily (that’s 75 ounces – or about nine glasses – for someone who weighs 150 pounds).

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