I did. And, I was wrong. Was my recent bout with dehydration because I wasn’t paying attention to my health, or maybe because I’m more vulnerable being a bit older? I don’t know. But I will share my experience for anyone who believes they are not vulnerable.
I would also recommend an article titled Staying Hydrated in the Summer Months. by Julie Ambachew recently published on Sixty & Me . It would have been helpful to me to read it more carefully before my recent travels.
This summer, I made a trip to Hawaii. This was not unusual. With family living there, I tend to visit about once a year. Generally, people who live in this environment are keenly aware of the dangers of dehydration. Whether heading to an air conditioned office or an outdoor work site, everyone I see is carrying their personal water bottle along with their briefcase or lunch box.
As a visitor, I have always been aware of the danger of dehydration. In fact, most visits to Hawaii have included extensive physical training outdoors and running either a half marathon or a marathon each year. I have been careful to stay hydrated and never previously experienced dehydration.
So, why this visit and what were my symptoms for dehydration?
The purpose of this visit was to lend a hand to busy young parents during the summer months. As a result, my time was spent differently. Was I drinking water frequently? Yes, but I was not as cognizant of my water intake as I generally am when I am seriously training or racing road or trail races.
The other ‘why’ for this visit may be that I am one year older than my last visit. One year should not make a difference, but I’m realizing that I must be more watchful of minute differences in my health in my seventh decade than was needed in my sixties. Ah, reality.
As to the symptoms, I can tick several off Ambachew’s list in her article. 1) intestinal issues, which was originally thought to be some sort of virus. 2) lack of energy, unusual for my highly energetic self, 3) balance was occasionally a bit off, and 4) a loss of appetite .
When my family noticed that I had become pale, they wisely insisted on a visit to the emergency room where the symptoms initially pointed to something like diverticulitis. We were all surprised when test results came back with a diagnosis of dehydration.
What Could I have done to Avoid Dehydration?
First and foremost, I must stay more aware of your own health needs, particularly when I am traveling or doing long-term stays. In my case I was so wrapped up in enjoying and caring for grandchildren that I overlooked some basic self-care. Even though I thought I was drinking an adequate amount and throwing in some pedialite and gatorade in the mix, it wasn’t enough.
Second, keep in mind fluid needs may be different based on your location and your activities. In my own home, I place a pitcher of water with a few lemon or cucumber slices on the counter. I make sure that pitcher is empty at the end of the day, I didn’t set up a similar system while staying with family in Hawaii.
Earlier on, I should have kept an eye on my weight, my sense of balance and any other changes in well-being that made me go “hmmm, what is going on?”
So, we’re moving to Autumn. No worries?
Not so fast. From what I’m reading lately, we are still at risk when temperatures dip. Remember last winter when your base layer was soaked with perspiration after a run? Or how dry your skin felt from being indoors in the artificial heat?
Being hypervigilant, I’ve noticed recently more articles popping up on this subject. This one from Everyday Health covers several reasons we need to be aware of water intake through the winter along with some helpful reminders.
My personal advise to myself: Drink up!
How do you monitor your vulnerability to dehydration during warmer weather, and in the cooler weather? Has your awareness of the potential for dehydration increased with age?
An earlier version of this article was published at Sixty & Me.