4 Critical Things to Know About Dehydration in Cold Temps
- Respiratory Water Loss. You know it’s awfully cold when you can see your breath while speaking. What you are actually seeing is moisture escaping from your body through water vapor. It’s called respiratory water loss, and the colder it gets the more fluids we lose just from breathing.
- Diminished Thirst. When temperatures drop, our brains become preoccupied with keeping warm—like constricting blood flow to our extremities so blood is focused on warming our core—so many of the early signs of dehydration are ignored by our brain. In fact, our “thirst response” can be diminished by as much as 40%, which can lead us to believe we aren’t very thirsty.
- Increased Urine Production. If our reduced thirst response doesn’t seem crazy enough, get this: our kidneys increase urine production in the cold temperatures so we’re eliminating fluid that we can’t really afford to lose (it’s what’s referred to as cold-induced urine diuresis).
- Extra Clothes and Boots Make You Work Harder. This doesn’t mean you should shed your coat and boots for a once-piece and flip flops. We’re just saying that extra clothes are heavy, which means when you are active, you tend to sweat more. Okay, that’s pretty obvious, but here’s the catch: we may not realize we’re sweating because perspiration evaporates quickly in cold air. Ugh.
Here’s the moral to our wintertime story: Drink more water than your body prompts you to. After all, our brains are busy taking care of core, life-saving body functions so let’s pick up the slack by stay well-hydrated and healthy.
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