A Guide to How to Hydrate Fast

A Guide to How to Hydrate Fast

Hydration is incredibly important to both your short and long-term health. Adequate hydration provides so many benefits they are difficult to list. Hydration helps to lubricate your joints and thins your blood, which eases the load on your heart, improves cognition, and helps keep your digestive system moving. For athletes, military and law enforcement, and those who work outdoors, hydration helps you to thermoregulate by allowing the body to cool itself.

Dehydration can come on quickly and seemingly without warning in hot environments under heavy workloads. This is especially true if you are chronically dehydrated. Symptoms of dehydration include fatigue, thirst, dry mouth, and lowered work output. As it progresses, dehydration can result in muscle cramps, headaches, and even dizziness. Left unchecked, dehydration can be a contributing factor to serious heat-related injuries. Fortunately, you can hydrate quickly and reverse the effects of dehydration in very little time.

Short Answer: To hydrate fast, drink fluids, and a lot of them. The most effective fluid you can drink for combating dehydration is water and a small amount of a sports drink or oral rehydration solution (such as Liquid IV). 

Understanding Dehydration

Dehydration is caused when the body loses water faster than it is replaced. You are effectively a body of water; up to 60% of the human body is water. Water impacts every aspect and process of your body, beginning all the way down to cellular metabolic processes. Losing just a couple percent of your body’s water begins to have a negative impact on your performance.

The Human Body & Water

The body is constantly losing water. Perhaps “losing” is the right word; rather, water is constantly cycling through the body. It is taken in through food and beverage and lost through urination, perspiration, defecation, and respiration. Even when you are at rest in a cool environment, water is being lost through respiration; in fact, you give up about a cup of water every day through breathing alone.

Increased Physical Activity & Perspiration

When you engage in physical activity, perspiration goes into high gear to help the body maintain a healthy temperature. Sweat seeps through the pores and onto the surface of the skin. Water is an excellent conductor of heat, which carries heat off the body through the process of evaporation. This is a critically important process and without it, the body would overheat quickly. When dehydrated, the body cannot perspire adequately in hot temperatures or under heavy workload.

Mild Dehydration & Its Symptoms

Mild dehydration can cause a multitude of undesirable symptoms. Most of these are merely uncomfortable, but they are a precursor for worsening symptoms if water is not replaced in the body soon. Thirst is an early symptom, as are dry mouth and fatigue. Cognition also slows down, though this may be difficult to detect by the victim. Fatigue is another, and one that will be readily apparent, though again, the victim might not associate fatigue with the true cause.

Severe Dehydration & Its Symptoms

Severe dehydration can result in medical emergencies. The loss of water can cause perspiration to stop altogether. This is a grave finding and one that should prompt you to seek immediate medical attention. The victim may become disoriented and have difficulty standing due to a drop in blood pressure as blood volume drops. But that’s not all.

The Adverse Effects of Dehydration

Though it is certainly the largest and accounts for the greatest quantity, water is not the only element lost through dehydration. Valuable electrolytes are lost as well – typically potassium and sodium. Potassium and sodium help carry electrical signals between cells. The sodium-potassium pump also provides the heart with its contractility, allowing it to beat. Once levels of sodium and potassium drop below optimal levels, a metabolic derangement occurs that can result in severe consequences such as seizures. Victims of severe dehydration may go into a medical condition known as hypovolemic shock – the same form of shock suffered by excessive blood loss. If dehydrated enough, even cardiac arrest may occur due to a lack of sodium and potassium or a lack of circulating volume.

Factors that Increase the Risk of Dehydration

Hot weather and hard work are environmental factors that increase the risk of dehydration, but behavioral factors can play a role too. Alcohol and caffeine – both incredibly popular substances – are mild diuretics, meaning they provoke urination. They cause the body to lose water at an accelerated rate, speeding up dehydration.

Implementing Fast Hydration Methods 

Fortunately, solving the problem of mild dehydration is not that difficult. The primary goal is to replace lost fluids and electrolytes. Water, unsurprisingly, is the frontline defense against dehydration. When you are in the outdoors, keep drinking water. Don’t wait until you are thirsty, as this is likely a sign you are already dehydrated. Once you have become dehydrated, however, water is the first-line intervention. Only take small sips of water when you have become dehydrated to avoid becoming sick, as vomiting is counterproductive to the goal of rehydration.

How to hydrate fast.

The Importance of Replacing Electrolytes

Replacing electrolytes is the next goal of rehydrating quickly. Too much water can cause a syndrome called hyponatremia, a profound lack of salt in the body. This is much, much rarer than being dehydrated, but it is something to be aware of.  And as we’ve seen, the loss of these electrolytes can cause plenty of other nasty complications. Sports drinks offer a good replacement for these electrolytes, but there are limits. A little goes a long way, as many sports drinks are loaded with added sugar and other sub-optimal ingredients. Alternating a pint of water and a pint of sports drink diluted half-and-half with water will yield excellent rehydration results.

Supplementing Oral Rehydration Solutions

An alternative to sports drinks is oral rehydration solutions (ORS), also sometimes called oral rehydration salts. These are dry packets of powder that can be added to water to replace electrolytes. These are sold under various trade names, and can even be made at home; simply add a packet of ORS to a quarter of water and it will replenish lost electrolytes. 

Step-By-Step Guide to Rehydration

If you find yourself dehydrated, take immediate action to right the ship. 

  1. Drink water. The quantity may vary depending on your weight, but for most adults, a quart of water is a good start. Drink it in small sips, allowing it to settle to avoid making yourself sick. 
  2. Next, add in some electrolytes, starting with a packet or oral rehydration solution per quart of water, or a quarter of water mixed half-and-half with electrolyte-rich drinks like sports drinks. 
  3. If you are overheated, rest and allow your body to begin to absorb the fluid before resuming physical exertion. 

How to Prevent Dehydration

Even better than corrective action is prevention. When you find yourself dehydrated, you are behind the eight-ball, trying to correct an imbalance. Being dehydrated is also bad for long-term health, so work to stay hydrated rather than being in a constant cycle of dehydration/rehydrating.

Increase Your Daily Water Intake

Make daily water intake a habit, and increase your daily water intake prior to doing strenuous exercise or exposure to high temperatures. If you have trouble drinking water, you may substitute some water with healthful alternatives like coconut water or herbal tea, but be mindful of overly sugary drinks. Avoid alcohol consumption and drinking caffeine prior to being outdoors. If you do indulge, be sure to drink enough water to replace fluid loss.

Regularly Monitor the Early Signs of Dehydration

Next, monitor your body’s hydration status through markers like the color and output of urine. If your urine is dark in color and output is low, you are most likely dehydrated, so try not to let it get to this point. Be aware of other common signs and symptoms of mild dehydration including dry mouth, headache, and fatigue.

Controlling Your Internal Temperature

Your diet can also play a huge factor in your state of hydration. The standard American diet contains a lot of packaged, processed foods with any natural water removed. This requires additional water inputs for digestion and does not give you the water you would receive when eating meat, fruits, and vegetables closer to their natural states. Leafy greens, fruits, and vegetables especially have very high water content, and high concentrations of other vitamins and minerals. Fruit juices contain some vitamins like vitamin C, but are also high in sugar, so consume fruit juices moderately.

The Future of Hydration with Qore Performance

Qore Performance is the future of hydration and thermoregulation. While water bottles have been the standard for decades, having water easily accessible (in the form of a convenient drinking tube) is proven to increase overall water intake by removing a barrier to doing so. Recognizing this, we developed the ICEPLATE® hydration bladder. ICEPLATE® from Qore Performance is molded to fit the wearer’s natural contours. Rather than a flimsy bladder, it is a rigid, rugged water vessel holding 50 ounces of water with an easily accessed drinking tube.

But that’s not all. By inserting ICEPLATE® into one of our safety vests, IMS Sleeves, or Hydration Backpacks, it also harnesses the thermal energy of water to cool or warm the wearer (fill the plate with frozen water for cooling or warm water for heating). 

So, if you spend a lot of time in high-heat environments or just want to improve your overall hydration, Qore Performance is here to help you in our mission to Build a Superhuman Future.®

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