What the doctors say about water....

The following research was conducted from health and water related reports
at the Dennison Memorial Library at the Colorado University Medical Hospital.

* What do the Doctors say
* What is Dehydration
* Symptoms of Dehydration
* Who is at risk from Dehydration
* Treatment of Dehydration
* Dehydration and Oral Health




* What do the doctors say about water?

        "Dehydration remains a problem among both institutionalized and community-dwelling elderly.  We agree that the community-based awareness programs for educating the public hopefully could help to reduce the number of [dehydration] cases reported in the community setting.  Last, we concur that infection is the major risk factor for the development of dehydration in this population and the proper use of vaccines to reduce respiratory infections could greatly aid in the reduction of the number of cases of dehydration.  Our experience leads us to still believe that institutionalized populations, because of frequent presence of cognitive impairment, immobility and multiple medical problems, are at special risk for the development of dehydration and require special monitoring by both nursing staff and the primary attending physician." Joan L. Warren, M.D. and Tamara Harris, M.D.  The Journal of the American Medical Association,
March 27 1996 v275 n12 p911(2).

        "Heat is really the silent killer.  The victim is down for the count before any warning comes.  The deficit in water begins at the gun and for that reason we must begin to make it up in advance.  Playing catch-up is not a game that works in hot-weather running."  George Sheehan, M.D. Vibrant Life, March-April 1996 v12 n2 p28 (2)
        Dr. Robert M Russell, a professor of medicine and nutrition at Tufts University in Boston and his colleagues at the Department of Agriculture's Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts, Dr. Alice Lichtenstein and Helen Rasmussen, a registered dietitian, have revised the food guide pyramid for Americans over 70.
        This guide has a new foundation: eight 8-ounce glasses of water (or its nonalcoholic, caffeine-free equivalent) each day.  "Older people...have to consciously think of drinking more and keeping well hydrated, especially if they live in warm climates," Russell said.  Without enough water, blood pressure can fall dangerously low, clots may form and block blood vessels, kidney function may be compromised (and may result in toxic concentrations of [prescription] drugs) and constipation can become chronic.

* What is Dehydration?

        Dehydration is defined by medical professionals as fluid loss in the body of more than 1 percent of body weight.  For example: a person weighing 150 pounds would have to lose 1.5 pounds (3 pints) to be considered dehydrated.

* Symptoms of Dehydration

For early or mild dehydration

* leads to an increase in body temperature
* causes heart-rhythm disturbances
* dizziness - made worse when standing
* fatigue or weakness
* cramping in the arms or legs
* nausea
* flushed face
* Extreme thirst
* dry, warm skin
* small amounts of dark, yellow urine
* crying with few or no tears
* headaches
* dry mouth with thick saliva
* mental confusion
* lethargy

For moderate to severe dehydration

* low blood pressure
* fainting
* severe muscle contractions and cramping in the arms legs stomach and back
* convulsions
* a bloated stomach
* heart failure
* sunken eyes with few or no tears
* lack of elasticity of the skin. When a bit of skin is lifted up - it takes a long time to go back to its normal position
* rapid & deep breathing.

        If you or anyone you know has these symptoms - immediately FORCE yourself or them to drink more water.  If symptoms are severe - get medical attention as soon as possible.

* Who is at risk from Dehydration?

        You are!  Everyone needs to be aware of the need to keep hydrated.  Next to oxygen, water is the nutrient most needed to sustain life.   You can live without food for a month, but you can survive only three to four days without water.
        Next at risk - CHILDREN and the ELDERLY need to be watched after.  A child needs to learn proper drinking water attitudes and older folks sense of thirst dims with age.  Plus they may have developed bad attitudes toward water.
        Backpackers, Runners and other Athletes - Beware!   Regardless of how much you chug, your body can only absorb about a quart of water an hour, even though you can easily sweat off 2 quarts an hour.  The solution? Drink early, constantly, and keep sipping after you've stopped for the day.  Few backpackers come close to drinking enough.  Mild dizziness, nausea, and headache are all signs of dehydration commonly experienced by hikers.  Drink at least a pint (16 ounces) of water every 20 minutes.  A flavored carbohydrate-laced sports drink diluted by half to two thirds helps motivate you to drink more and speeds up absorption.   Avoid higher concentrations because they require too much water to be digested.
        Next at risk group - people who drink nothing but sodas, coffee and alcohol. These are water-robbing beverages that act as diuretics, causing the body to lose water rapidly through increased urination.  Going to bed after a night of drinking alcohol is a sure way of pickling your brain, liver and other vital organs.   If you do this on occasion, makes sure to keep drinking water all through the night, especially each time you get up to go to the bathroom.
        And finally - TEENAGERS who drink nothing but soda pops are setting themselves up early for heart attacks in their Thirties and early Forties.   The constant supply of thick syrupy fluids does nothing to contribute to healthy blood vessels and hearts

* Treatment of Dehydration

        If you are mildly dehydrated, you need to drink enough liquid to replace the fluids you have lost.  Also, you need to replace the electrolytes (salts) you have lost.  Drinking sips of water slowly, along with eating the typical American diet, which is high in salt, will replace fluids and salts you have lost.
        Nonprescription medicines are available that help replenish fluids and electrolytes by drinking sports drinks or an oral rehydration solution (ORS). Drink the solution (or give it to the dehydrated person if they are conscious) immediately.  Do not wait until dehydration becomes severe.
        Packets of oral rehydration salts are widely available.   To use one of these packets, mix the contents with 1 quart or liter of drinking water.  If drinking water is not available, or if you are not sure the water is drinkable, boil the water for at least 10 minutes.
        If ORS packets are not available, mix an oral rehydration solution using the following recipe: To 1 quart of drinking water or boiled water, add the following:

* 2 tablespoons sugar or honey

* 1/4 teaspoon salt

* 1/4 teaspoon baking soda (bicarbonate of soda).

        Note: If baking soda is not available, add another 1/4 teaspoon of salt.  If possible, add 1/2 cup orange juice or some mashed banana to improve the taste and provide some potassium.

        Drink sips of the ORS every 5 minutes until urination becomes normal.  It's normal to urinate four or five times a day.  Adults and large children should drink at least 3 quarts or liters of ORS a day until they are well.
        If you are vomiting, continue to try to drink the ORS.   Your body will retain some of the fluids and salts you need even though you are vomiting.  Remember to take sips of liquids slowly.  Chilling the ORS may help.
        Someone with symptoms of severe dehydration needed intravenous fluids (fluids given directly into the veins through a needle) if possible.   If able to drink, they should also drink the ORS.

Clinical Reference Systems, Dec 1997 p2409


* Oral Health

        Saliva is essential for the maintenance of oral health.   Saliva is made up of water.  Dehydration acts to dry the mouth first especially in mouth breathers. This leads to the onslaught of gingivitis.  Gums disappear - teeth fall out - dental bills kill you.

  F. Batmanghelidj, M.D.

        - writes that he has seen water completely reverse conditions such as asthma angina, hypertension, migraine headaches, arthritis pain, back pain, colitis pain, and chronic constipation.  Also, heartburn, hiatal hernia, depression, chronic fatigue syndrome, high cholesterol.  morning sickness, overweight problems and even heart problems needing bypass surgery.  He stated that most of these problems were a result of DEHYDRATION.

       "You're not sick! You're thirsty!"  

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