It is very common to think about dehydration and associate it with the hot Summer months. But, dehydration is something that can still affect you in Winter. In fact, you can be dehydrated in Winter just as much (and sometimes more so) than in the Summer heat, especially if you’re working out in the cold. So what can you do to ensure you don’t become dehydrated in Winter?
Know the signs of dehydration
Often, people will notice the signs of dehydration long after they have started becoming dehydrated, which isn’t ideal. When you lose more fluids than what you consume, this leads to your body becoming dehydrated. This means that your body will often struggle to perform its critical functions which may then lead to symptoms.
One of the first signs of dehydration is fatigue and mild headaches. The issue with these symptoms is that it is easy to put those symptoms down to not getting enough sleep. Therefore, you may not recognise that you are in fact dehydrated.
As your dehydration worsens you may experience other symptoms such as dizziness when standing up, muscle cramping, migraines or bad headaches and the inability to focus or concentrate. Again, these symptoms are often associated with poor rest, so many people still fail to recognise that they’re dehydrated.
If you continue to be dehydrated and don’t get enough fluids, you could experience feeling faint (or fainting), rapid breathing and heart rate, dry lips and skin and sunken eyes. If you experience these symptoms, you’re not needing to urinate very often and your urine is of a dark colour, it’s time to get more fluids into your system as soon as possible.
Why is it more common to be dehydrated in Winter?
The colder months often leave people feeling less thirsty than they would in the heat. Most people won’t notice the fluid loss and because it is colder, you generally tend to feel less thirsty. When it is cold, you don’t crave cold (or room temperature) fluids. Unlike in the Summer, the heat will often see you looking for a cold glass of water to quench your thirst and keep you hydrated.
Another point to consider is that you feel like you sweat less in Winter. When in fact, you may still be sweating the same amount. In Summer, the heat and humidity will leave you noticing your sweat a lot easier. Because of the heat, the humid air won’t evaporate off your skin quickly. In cold, dry Winter months, your sweat actually evaporates a lot quicker and therefore, you won’t notice it as much. With there being “less sweat” to notice, it means you might not drink as much. If you’re noticeably sweating, you’re more likely to feel like drinking. But without the sweat, you might not feel the need to replace your fluids as much.
How to stay hydrated in Winter
The first and easiest way to stay hydrated in Winter is to continue to drink water. Water is the easiest way to stay hydrated, it is good for you and will keep you feeling fuller for longer (which is even better if you want to watch what you eat during the colder months).
You may simply not feel like drinking water in the cold months, which is totally understandable. You may instead opt for hot drinks such as decaffeinated tea and coffee. Standard coffee is still okay to drink but for some people, it can act as a diuretic, so it’s a good idea to drink these drinks in moderation.
Another good option is to drink an electrolyte drink or supplement. This is especially useful if you want something different to drink and don’t feel like drinking water. Not only will it help you drink something with a bit of flavour but you’ll also be able to replace any lost electrolytes in the process.
If all else fails, eating foods that are high in water content can also help your body to feel better. The best foods include fruits and vegetables. But, you may also make meals that are perfect for the warmer months such as stews and soups. Not only will you feel nice and warm on the inside, but you’ll be helping to reduce your level of dehydration.