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Running and dehydration

Updated on March 26, 2010
Running in pink
Running in pink

Hydration keeps you going

There are many things that can cause dehydration, in this post i will concentrate on dehydration in relation to sport and plain old fashioned failure to take in enough liquids.
Many people search on the internet to see if they can still train when sick. More often than not this group is so dedicated to their training schedule that they will train anyway. If you do then at least remember that increased body temperature will also result in increasd sweating.
Your body needs fluids not just to quench your thirst but also to expell toxins as well and to keep your system flexible, lubricated and running smoothly.

The Signs and Symptoms of Dehydration

Symptoms of dehydration usually begin with thirst and if this is ignored it progresses to more alarming manifestations. The initial signs and symptoms of mild dehydration in adults appear when the body has lost about 2% of it's total fluid. These mild dehydration symptoms are often (but not limited to):
Dry skin which can become itchy
Dark coloured urine
Dry mouth
Fatigue and feelings of weakness

If the dehydration is allowed to continue unabated, when the total fluid loss reaches 5% the following effects are normally experienced:

Increased heart rate
Increased respiration
Decreased sweating
Decreased urination
Increased body temperature
Extreme fatigue
Muscle cramps
Tingling of the limbs

When the body reaches 10% fluid loss emergency help is needed IMMEDIATELY! 10% fluid loss and above is often fatal! Symptoms of severe dehydration include:

Muscle spasms
Racing pulse
Shriveled skin
Dim vision
Painful urination
Difficulty breathing
Chest and Abdominal pain

Be aware that these are not the only symptoms of severe dehydration that may manifest in response to dehydration, these are simply the most common. Symptoms of dehydration will differ from person to person because the body is a complex network of systems and everyone's body is different. When these systems are disturbed due to loss of fluids there will be several common symptoms shared by most bodies, but there may also be unusual or unexpected responses depending on the particular person in question. Age also plays a part in the manifestation of symptoms. Signs of dehydration in a child will not be the same as those experienced by a teenager, adult or in the elderly. Dehydration prevention is the best treatment for every age group

If you want to read more about dehydration you can find useful information on

Treatment for Dehydration

To think that it is enough just to top up with water when dehydrated is not the best solution.
When you become dehydrated you also lose vital electrolytes so it is very important to replenish them along with the water. Electrolytes are sodium and Potassium (salts).
Electrolytes are needed for electro-chemical reactions within cells. A lack of electrolytes in the body can interfere with the chemical reactions needed for healthy cell operation and is known as water intoxication. This can become a serious condition and has lead to death in extreme cases.

If you notice that someone is dehydrated give them sips of water or sports dink preferably. DO NOT give them food !
Why not? Well strange as it seems food needs fluid for optimal digestion. So let them fill up on the fluid first. Once you are sure that they have enough fluid you can start with small salty snacks. The salt will help keep the fluid in the body.
If a person is showing some of the more severe symptoms of dehydration as listed above, call an ambulance immediately. He or she may be past the point where ingestion of the proper fluids will help; get them medical attention immediately.

Prevention of Dehydration

The average amount of fluid lost per day is two to three litres, through breath, sweat, and urine. This number can increase or decrease based on the types of activities that you participate in. If your training workload is high you can actually lose around 2 litres an hour!
To prevent dehydration you simply need to replenish the liquids that are lost throughout the day and during the training schedule. One rule of thumb: By the time you feel thirsty you are already dehydrated .


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