By Bill Murphy, MD, Medical Director, Turquoise Springs Medical Spa
Eye drops for dry eyes, pills to stop itching and dizziness, and doctor visits for ringing of the ears and headaches. Dry skin, dry mouth, bad breath, constipation, and feeling tired all the time? Would you be surprised to learn all of these problems can be because you are not replacing enough water loss every day and you are chronically dehydrated?
Hydration or fluid management for our body is vitally important for our health and well-being. Our bodies are about 60% water, depending on the proportion of fat and muscle we carry. Muscle has more water than fat tissue. If one is dehydrated or has volume loss, a variety of symptoms and medical problems may arise. Your skin can be dry, more wrinkled, flaky, and itchy. If your body is low on body fluids acutely, you might have dizziness, fatigue, confusion, and even a drop in blood pressure. Chronic sustained or severe dehydration can cause kidney damage, paradoxically cause high blood pressure to worsen, and increase the chance of blood clots.
There are two primary spaces for fluid in our body: inside the cells and outside the cells. Two-thirds of our water is inside the trillions of cells (skin, brain, liver, nerves, muscle, and all of the others). The rest is either inside blood vessels or in the interstitial space. The interstitial space is outside the blood vessels but not in the cells. It is the “in-between space” and holds 20% of our water content if we are properly hydrated and healthy. Water goes in and out of the cells from this “in-between space” depending on the levels of 3 primary substances. These are sodium, glucose, and potassium. Sodium is by far the most important of the three and is in our food in the form of salt. We are triggered to drink fluids by thirst. The sense of thirst is a complicated process managed by sensors in the brain, kidney, and other organs based on the concentration of these three substances in the different spaces. Loss of fluid from the body happens due to several factors, which include loss of water by breathing, sweating, and urination. The losses increase with higher environmental temperature and humidity, increased physical activity, and loss of blood by injury or donation.
As we age, we are less responsive to thirst and, thus, less likely to replace lost volume as quickly over age 50 than when we are younger. Thus, chronic dehydration with aging is more common and more likely and can worsen other signs of aging: dry skin, loss of muscle mass, loss of balance, and increased frailty and weakness.
Replacing fluids with coffee, tea, carbonated drinks, Diet Coke, or alcohol may actually make the problem worse, as caffeine can increase urination, and alcohol decreases the body’s ability to concentrate urine. It is okay to drink all of these products, but not as a substitute for water. Water to start the day and regular consumption all day of 2 to 3 liters total per day for adult males and slightly less for adult females is best.
I am asked regularly, “Should I drink electrolyte/sugar products like Gatorade or Power Aide?” The answer for routine fluid replacement and mild to moderate exercise is no. Water is best, and the addition of electrolytes is only needed if there is excessive, prolonged, and profuse sweating. Glucose or sugar products are only needed with extreme activities such as marathons, triathlons, or activities lasting for many hours and only taken late in the activity.
Water in regular doses is just what the doctor ordered for healthy skin, normal fluid balance, and energy for you to get through your day with ease.
Visit www.turquoisesprings.com/ to schedule your consultation with Dr. Murphy today and start your journey to looking and feeling your best!