The Importance of Staying Hydrated in the Winter
by Dr. Jonathan Doyle - Updated January 23, 2022
Generally speaking, we tend to worry about dehydration caused by high temperatures in summer, but have you ever thought about situations when people experience dehydration in winter? The chances of dehydration can double if you're an outdoor exerciser.
What are the signs and symptoms of dehydration?
Dehydration occurs when your body loses more water than you replenish. Dehydration usually begins with mild headaches and fatigue, which may initially resemble other symptoms such as lack of sleep. As dehydration develops, you may experience dizziness, random muscle spasms, severe headaches or migraines, and loss of concentration.
Dehydration can cause dry skin and lips, sunken eye sockets, fainting, rapid heartbeat, and shortness of breath. Another common indicator of dehydration is infrequent urination or dark urine. If you don't go to the toilet often, don't produce enough urine when you urinate, or have dark urine, you may need to rehydrate.
Why is it easier to be dehydrated in winter?
In cold weather, you may not notice how much water you lose. If you don't feel thirsty, which often happens in winter, you may not be replenishing the lost water. In just a few days or weeks, severe dehydration can result.
Delayed thirst response
When it's cold outside, people tend to be less thirsty. These are caused by physiological changes, and often the decrease in thirst sensation is simply due to the cold weather.
Increased respiratory water loss
When it's cold outside, you can see the water vapor when you exhale. The drier the air, the more moisture would be lost in this way. Respiratory water loss also increases with exercise intensity. The heavier the breath, the more water vapor is produced per breath; the faster the breath, the more water vapor is produced per minute.
Sweat is noticeable in sweltering summers because the air is hotter and more humid, so sweat doesn't evaporate from our skin as quickly. In cold, dry weather, sweat evaporates faster, so less sweat is left behind. Since we often equate "hydrating" with "sweating," this may make you feel like you don't need to hydrate as much as you normally would, especially when exercising.
What are the benefits of staying hydrated in winter?
Regulate body temperature
Keeping the body well hydrated to regulate body temperature, which would allow the blood to carry vital nutrients and oxygen through the body, and remove toxins from the body.
Natural solution for skincare
Water is essential to keep skin cells plentiful and reduces the risk of chapped skin. It removes toxic impurities from the body, and outside impurities can seep through the skin’s pores and cause freckles if people are not well hydrated.
Dry air and the temperature difference between a warm room and a cold outdoor is another reason that causes chapped skin. Although you may not feel thirsty, drinking water regularly will keep your skin shiny.
Strengthen the immune system
Winter is a vulnerable period of time for our immune system, and also a time when we are more susceptible to many airborne viruses. Dehydration can severely weaken our immune system barrier as the lack of water can dry out the mucous membranes of our lungs and sinuses, reducing their resistance to infectious germs.
Stay well hydrated during the winter can ensure all the body barriers used to protect ourselves from viruses are fully functional.
How to stay hydrated in winter?
The simple answer is to make sure you stay hydrated throughout the day, not just when you feel thirsty. Our bodies require between 48 and 64 fluid ounces of water every day, which is about 2-4 liters of water for adults. People who sweat more need to drink more water accordingly to compensate.
Suitable exercise gear is also important. Making sure you wear the right gear during exercise helps maintain your body temperature while allowing sweat to evaporate. If you want to learn the exact amount of water intake, you could weigh yourself before exercising, then drink enough water to keep yourself within 2% of your pre-workout weight.
Fruits, vegetables, or drinks containing electrolytes are some alternatives if you have trouble drinking enough water. But you should avoid drinking beverages containing caffeine. Learn about how to drink properly.
The importance of hydration and the adverse effects of dehydration in winter should not be neglected. From a health perspective, besides staying hydrated, you may want to ensure the quality of drinking water at home.
The improved water quality and water taste can encourage people to drink more water. Industry-leading brand Waterdrop offers a range of home-use water purifiers to meet your different water needs and keep you and your loved ones with healthy drinking water all day long.