Are you dehydrated? – Good advice by Dr Harold

Are you dehydrated? – Good advice by Dr Harold

Do you know that most Sri Lankans in Sri Lanka are dehydrated without their being aware?

Being in a tropical country with frequent exposure to the hot sun with no head protection inevitably leads to dehydration. People stand in a bus queue for hours in the hot sun, but you don’t see them carrying water in a container to quench their thirst as required.

There was a time the younger generation in Sri Lanka did carry a bottle of water with them, but now that culture has disappeared, replacing with a smartphone.
What is dehydration? It means that you are not taking adequate quantity of water to replenish the daily requirement, and the body finds it difficult to keep your body temperature steady and clear your waste products through your kidneys and your skin. You are losing water all the time through sweat, tears, breathing and urination. At times of fever, and gastro-intestinal upsets you may lose addition water through vomiting and diarrhoea.

More than on an average 60 percent of your body is composed of water and the percentage of water in infants is much higher. With mild dehydration you could feel tired, may not excrete sufficient water in your pee, and your pee may be darker: may feel dry in the throat and even get a headache. You may not be aware that these symptoms are due to dehydration and may attribute to general tiredness from work.

Children get dehydrated much quicker than adults. If your child starts vomiting or having lose motions due to a stomach upset, start commencing giving water ad lib, to prevent dehydration. Soft drinks containing sugar are contraindicated as such drinks may extract more water from your body and pass out in your stools.
Babies may not be able to tell you when dehydrated. Look for a dry tongue and diapers may not be wet. With severe dehydration the eyes and cheeks may look sunken. They may breathe fast and have a rapid thin pulse.

Those who like treading in the jungle, taking adequate water with them are most essential, much more important than even carrying food. If you are adequately hydrated you could survive a good ten days without food, in such situations.

How much water should you drink per day? There are various theories on the quantity of water, and at what times of the day you should drink and so on. Believe whatever you want to believe, but whenever your urine is dark in colour and seems not passing out adequately please drink a few glasses of water immediately. If you are active you need to drink more, as after workouts in the gym.

One warning about drinking too much of water per day, is that your electrolytes such as sodium potassium and calcium may get diluted and may have bad effects on your nerves and bones. The kidneys may not be able to excrete the fluids efficiently. When your sodium gets diluted in your tissues and blood – the condition is referred to as, ‘hyponatremia’ It is advised not to drink energy sports drinks. They are meant for high-level athletes like the marathon runners.
If you are on a diet to reduce weight, drink adequate amount of water before a meal. That would give you a feeling of fullness and also dilute your acid juice reducing your appetite.

If you have persisted diarrhoea for over 24 hours, and can’t keep fluids in, you must visit the local hospital for intravenous glucose/saline drips.
It is a good habit drinking water from a wide mouth bottle, available in the super-markets for that purpose. Most of them hold 800 mls. of water. Add a few drops of organic apple cider vinegar into the water, keep it in the fridge and drink whenever you have the time. It is easy to drink a good half a bottle effortlessly, than sipping water from a tumbler.

When you go for your blood tests to the pathology centres drink adequate amount of water on empty stomach to hydrate your circulation. Drinking beverages like tea and coffee may dehydrate you due to their ‘diuretic effects’.

If you suffer from chronic constipation, please drink plenty of water.

Conclusions: If you feel tired and lifeless drink plenty of water and that would reward you with a better performance at work and make your day brighter.


Dr Gunatillake-Health editor is a member of the Academy of Medicine, Singapore. Member of the Australian Association of Cosmetic Surgery. Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons (UK), Corresponding Fellow of the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery, Member of the International Societies of Cosmetic surgery, Fellow of the International College of Surgery (US), Australian diplomat for the International Society of Plastic, Aesthetic & Reconstructive Surgery, Board member of the International Society of Aesthetic Surgery, Member of the American Academy of Aesthetic & restorative Surgery, Life Member of the College of Surgeons, Sri Lanka, Batchelor of Medicine & Surgery (Cey) Government scholar to UK for higher studies.
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