Many factors increase your risk of dehydration. Heavy activity in the sun during the hottest part of the day is a fast way to dehydrate yourself. However, you can also dehydrate slowly by drinking the wrong drinks throughout the day. If you notice you are becoming thirsty and your skin is beginning to feel dry, these are some early symptoms of dehydration. As you become more dehydrated, you may feel light-headed or dizzy. You can resolve mild dehydration simply by drinking water or another appropriate fluid. If your dehydration has progressed, however, you may need intravenous fluids.
Caffeine is a diuretic, which means it causes your body to eliminate more water than it takes in. Diuretics can be useful when you have excess fluids due to swelling and need to alleviate that problem, but if you are not careful they can dehydrate you. Drinks such as coffee, some sodas and some teas are the most common beverages that contain caffeine. Decaffeinated versions of these beverages can be less dehydrating than their caffeinated counterparts, but you still need to be aware of other factors, such as sugar content.
Beverages like lemonade, fruit punch, soda and some juices briefly make you feel as though you are hydrating yourself, but ultimately leave your body working harder to get that hydration. Sugary drinks can sometimes increase thirst in the long run. You can cut down on this problem by buying drinks that are clearly labeled to have reduced sugar levels--or make your own. In the case of powdered drink mixes that you make for yourself, reduce the amount of sugar you add to the powder and water. Some sugar-free mixes are available, but they may have other added sweeteners.
Water is the easiest way to keep yourself hydrated, especially in hot weather. If you do not like the taste of water, you can add a few drops of lemon or lime juice for flavor. Many people also find it difficult to suddenly drink the 8 to 10 glasses of water per day that many doctors and health agencies advise. Start slowly by adding one glass of water to your day if you currently do not drink water, and increase the amount every few days. Sports drinks have electrolytes that can help to rehydrate you, especially after heavy exertion. Read the labels carefully, however, because many sports drinks have added sugar.
Cricket Webber began writing for fun as a young adult and started writing professionally in 2010. She is based in the deep South. Webber specializes in articles on greener living. Her work has appeared in various online publications. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in education from Converse College.