Healthy Geezer: Water
Q. I’ve been told to drink more water. How much is enough?
First, water intake is a health issue that you should discuss with your doctor before deciding how much you should drink. The amount you drink is dependent upon the state of your personal health.
Drinking insufficient amounts of fluids is the common problem. However, some conditions such as heart failure and kidney disease may require cutting back on fluids.
The simplest answer I could find to this very complicated question is this: If you aren’t thirsty and you produce one to two quarts of light yellow urine daily, the average output for an adult, you’re probably taking in enough water.
If you are concerned about your water intake, remember that you get water from more than just straight water. About 80 percent of your total water intake is from all beverages, which includes soda, coffee and beer. You get the remaining 20 percent from food.
Here are more general answers to your question:
There is the “8 x 8 rule,” which has been around for as long as I can remember. This rule states that you should drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day. That’s a half-gallon of water. I could never follow this rule. All that water on top of the soda, coffee and beer had me constantly doing what my granddaughter calls “the pee-pee dance.”
Some authorities recommend using your weight as a guideline for water intake. They say you should divide your weight in half and use the number of pounds to determine the number of ounces of water you should drink daily. For example, if you weigh 120 pounds, you should drink 60 ounces of water a day.
Another way to ensure that you have enough water is by following a replacement guideline. You urinate one to two quarts a day. About another quart of water is lost through sweating, exhaling and defecating. You have to make sure you drink and eat enough each day to compensate for the lost fluids.
The Institute of Medicine, a component of the National Academy of Sciences, advises men to consume 125 ounces of beverages daily. The IOM recommends that women consume 91 ounces of total beverages a day.
These guidelines are designed for normal health, activity and weather.
Diarrhea and vomiting dehydrate you. You need to replace lost fluids if you are sick with these symptoms. To replace fluid-loss from diarrhea, adults should consume broth, non-citrus fruit juices, flat ginger ale and ice pops.
When you exercise, you perspire more and lose fluid. To replace this fluid, you’ll need to take in about two to three cups of water for each hour of exercise.
When the temperature and humidity rise, you sweat more, so you have to drink more.
Water is important because, without it, we become dehydrated and all of our systems suffer. Dehydration is especially dangerous to seniors, who are less able than younger people to sense dehydration.
A good way for seniors to check their water level is the “pinch test.” Pinch the skin on top of your hands. If the pinched skin doesn’t return to its normal state, you need to get yourself a drink of water.
Here are some more signs of dehydration: fatigue, headache, dizziness, flushed skin, elevated pulse rate, muscle spasms, increased breathing rate and swollen tongue.
In rare cases, you can drink too much water. Your kidneys can’t handle an overload and this condition leads to low sodium levels in the blood. Marathoners can run into this problem.
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