Note: This article is an updated version of the original article that was posted on August 10, 2020.
With Fiesta in (almost) full swing for the first time since 2019, it’s no surprise that San Antonians are gathering outside to get the most out of our city-wide party. It’s important to stay hydrated and drink plenty of water.
The Health Benefits of Water
Water makes up more than 60% of your body weight. Every cell, tissue and organ in your body needs water to function properly.
“Water is essential for both keeping your body hydrated and helping your body to perform important functions daily. Drinking enough water ensures that your body has what it needs to clean out toxins in your system and maintain adequate blood pressure,” said Dr. Deborah Dergan, a family practice physician at University Health.
Water also helps your body:
- Boost skin health
- Get rid of waste through urination, perspiration and bowel movements
- Lubricate and cushion joints
- Maintain a normal temperature
When you don’t drink enough water, it can lead to dehydration – a condition where the body doesn’t have enough water to carry out its normal functions. This becomes more of a concern when you spend a lot of time outside in the heat and don't have a chance to cool off in the air condition.
The Dangers of Dehydration
Anyone can become dehydrated, but young children and the elderly are more susceptible. Dehydration usually happens because you have not had enough water over a certain period to maintain your body’s need.
Other factors that can contribute to dehydration include:
- Exercise – Any activity that causes you to sweat can result in the loss of too much fluid from your body.
- Heat – If you live in a hotter climate (like San Antonio) it’s important to drink more water because you’re more likely to perspire.
- Pregnancy/breastfeeding – Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding need more water to support the baby as well as lactation.
- Illness – If you have a fever, vomiting or diarrhea, it’s important to drink more water to replace the loss of fluids from being sick.
- Medications – Certain medications can cause frequent urination or sweating, which can lead to dehydration.
So, how do you know if you’re dehydrated?
Some common symptoms of dehydration include:
- Dark urine
- Dry mouth or skin
- Feeling very thirsty
Staying Hydrated at Fiesta
Most people need at least 6-8 cups (48-64 oz) of water every day to stay hydrated. If you spend the day outside at a Fiesta event, however, you'll probably need to drink more. To avoid getting dehydrated, drink plenty of fluids–as much as 2-3 cups per hour. If you're enjoying a margarita or a beer, you will need to drink more water to stay hydrated. Alcohol removes fluids from your blood at a faster rate than other liquids.
“An easy way to determine if you need to drink more water is to look at the color of your urine,” Dr. Dergan said. “If you aren’t getting enough water, your urine will be very dark in color. When you are drinking plenty of water, your urine will be clear.”Drinking water is the best way to stay hydrated, but there are plenty of other ways to achieve your daily 6-8 cup goal. You can get water by eating fruits and vegetables, or by drinking juice and tea.
What to Do If You're Dehydrated
If you or a friend are experiencing mild signs of dehydration, like dizziness or fatigue, there are a few things you can do to help yourself and others:
- Drink fluids rich in electrolytes, like Gatorade or Pedialyte
- Get in an air-conditioned room, or relocate to a shady spot if you're outside
- Put a damp towel around your neck
- Remove excess clothing and loosen tight-fitting clothing
- Sip on cool water
- Spray water on your skin to encourage cooling by evaporation
Watch for severe signs of dehydration, including confusion, bloody or black stool or extreme fatigue or sleepiness. Seek medical help immediately to avoid severe complications or illness.