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Dehydration: A Summer & Winter Health Risk!

In the warmth of summer, if you don't drink enough fluids to replace what is lost in sweat, it's easy for us to become dehydrated. At some point you may have experienced when working or playing – your legs get heavy, your mouth feels dry, fatigue sets in, and you may even feel a headache. These are all common signs of dehydration.
 
But what about during the winter months? Can you get dehydrated in cold weather?
The answer is YES!
 
With cooler weather dehydration is still a risk to us which we need to control, just as in summer, it’s just not so obvious. A number of reasons contribute to dehydration in cooler weather and its causes are not as noticeable as during the summer heat and sweat.
 
Firstly; the cooler temperatures can reduce the body’s thirst response and when undertaking physical activity in cold weather, you may be less likely to drink water voluntarily, thus increasing the risk of dehydration.
 
Then, during the cooler weather we start to “rug up”, wearing extra layers of clothing. This could be a heavy jacket, close fitting clothing, under garments, beanies and other warm clothing to help our body to conserve heat. But this added weight is a factor that makes our body work between 10 and 40 percent harder. And in working harder the body produces more sweat, which contributes to the body’s fluid losses.
 
Cold-weather exercise is another way in which we may become dehydrated. The body doesn’t get as hot, and the sweat generated evaporates more rapidly in the cold air.  We are fooled into thinking we aren’t losing fluids as rapidly as during a hot, summer day, But we are!
 
Another reason for fluid loss and increase risk of dehydration is an increase in respiratory fluid loss. In colder weather, we lose more fluids through respiratory water loss. When you can see your own breath, that’s actually water vapour that your body is losing.
 
Dehydration is most commonly thought of as a hot-weather health risk, but in cold weather dehydration can also be a significant risk. It is more difficult to realize when you need to stop for a drink during cooler weather BUT hydrating with enough fluids is the key to avoiding dehydration, even during the winter months.