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The importance of keeping hydrated in cold weather

A woman drinking water in a snowy woodland area

We often think of hydrating in the summer when it is hot, but much less when the temperature begins to drop. However, in winter, dehydration is also common, especially in the elderly and infants. So how do we stay hydrated?

Many adults drink less than a litre of water per day. If in summer we often think of hydrating to refresh ourselves, in winter the reflex is not so automatic. This leads to greater risks of dehydration, especially among vulnerable people, such as infants or the elderly. Dry mouth, lips and eyes, feeling tired, dizzy, lack of concentration and feeling disoriented can all be symptoms of dehydration.

Good hydration is essential for the functioning of the body. This is because an adult is made up of 60% water. Organs like your heart, lungs, kidneys, liver, and brain all contain significant volumes of water, ranging from 64-83%.

Water is therefore essential for maintaining physiological functions, as it protects the brain, lubricates the joints and helps regulate body temperature. It redistributes the heat produced in the tissues towards the skin and eliminates any excess through perspiration.

Our body does not store water, it permanently eliminates it. In addition to perspiration, it is lost through urine, respiration and even tears. Any loss of water interferes with the proper functioning of organs. When the feeling of thirst appears, it means that we have already lost about 1% of water (it is therefore a source of stress for our body). This loss leads to a 10% decrease in intellectual capacities (we are less able to concentrate) and our physical capacities also decrease.

Certain signs such as a dry tongue, a drop in blood pressure, difficulty walking or even a fever, can indicate dehydration. This can be diagnosed by monitoring urine or by having a blood test.

The elderly are more prone to dehydration simply because they feel less thirsty but also because some are taking drugs that can promote dehydration, such as people with diabetes who take diuretics. Dehydration remains one of the leading causes of hospitalisation for the elderly.

If you find it hard to drink enough fluids, try eating foods that contain high water content. All fruits and most vegetables have high concentrations of water, and this can count toward your total daily water intake.

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