Brrrrrrr! It’s that time of year when the temperature is dropping and we’re all bundling up to keep warm … so it is strange to think that we are still at risk of dehydration. Here’s what you need to know so you don’t get dehydrated this winter time.
What are the signs of dehydration?
- An increased thirst and a dry/sticky mouth
- A headache/disorientation
- Dry eyes/blurred vision
- Cramping muscles
- Not sweating
- Dark urine
- A fever
- Signs of fatigue/confusion/anger
So – why is dehydration still a risk, even in the winter months?
As it’s not as hot, and therefore we’re not sweating as much, our bodies are tricked into believing that we need to drink less.
According to Dripdrop.com: “in cold weather, the body’s thirst response is diminished (by up to 40 percent even when dehydrated). This happens because our blood vessels constrict when we’re cold to prevent blood from flowing freely to the extremities. (If you’ve ever had cold hands in winter, you know the feeling.) This enables the body to conserve heat by drawing more blood to its core. But because of this, the body is fooled into thinking it’s properly hydrated, e.g. you don’t feel as thirsty and your body doesn’t conserve water. Thus, in cold weather, athletes are less likely to drink water voluntarily, and additionally, their kidneys aren’t signaled by hormones to conserve water and urine production increases, a condition call cold-induced urine diuresis.”
This increased urine production and reduced thirst response are only two of the contributing factors. Some others include:
- Our bodies have to work between 10 and 40 percent harder, when wearing multiple, heavy layers of clothing. As such sweat more and lose more fluid
- Increased respiratory loss. This is when you lose water vapor through your breath (when you breathe out and can see a mist, that’s increased fluid leaving your body)
- The fact that sweat evaporates more quickly in cooler temperatures means your body is, once again, fooled into thinking we need less fluid
So – don’t be led astray by your body … and make sure you drink lots of water this chilly winter time!
Written by Emma Hammett for First Aid for Life
It is strongly advised that you attend a Practical First Aid course to understand what to do in a medical emergency. Please visit www.firstaidforlife.org.uk and www.onlinefirstaid.com for more information about our practical and online courses and to access free resources.
First Aid for life provides this information for guidance and it is not in any way a substitute for medical advice. First Aid for Life is not responsible or liable for any diagnosis made, or actions taken based on this information.