Dehydration may seem like a minor ailment, but it can be quite dangerous. In fact, most heat illnesses are caused by dehydration. Did you know that by the time a person is thirsty, he or she is already 2 to 3 percent dehydrated? Once this occurs, it’s difficult to make up for the lost hydration.
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In the simplest terms, dehydration occurs when you lose more water than you take in and your body does not have enough water to carry out its normal functions. What's more, even mild dehydration—as little as a 1 to 2 percent loss of body weight—can cause symptoms such as weakness, dizziness, and fatigue, and may have an adverse effect on long-term health.
On average, adults lose about 2.5 liters (more than 10 cups) of water a day, by merely doing everyday tasks such as sweating, breathing, and going to the bathroom. Also lost are electrolytes—minerals such as sodium, potassium, and calcium—that maintain the balance of fluids in your body.
A person can sweat about a liter an hour doing heavy work. Most workers exposed to hot conditions drink less fluid than needed because their thirst response is insufficient and lags behind the actual level of dehydration.
Mild to moderate dehydration is likely to cause the following symptoms:
Symptoms that require emergency care include:
Preventing dehydration sounds easy enough: consume plenty of fluids and foods high in water content, like fruits and vegetables. Determining your appropriate water intake is not an exact science, as much depends on age, physical condition, activity level, environment, and individual physiology. To ward off dehydration and make sure your body has the fluids it needs, LMC's risk management team offers these reminders:
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