As temperatures drop, it's crucial to pay attention to your hydration needs. Winter dehydration is more common than most people think. The colder weather can reduce our thirst, and you also might not recognize when you're sweating. Indoor heating can also reduce moisture in the air, leading to dehydration without you even realizing it.
Fortunately, a few simple steps can help you get into the habit of healthful hydration this winter.
5 Reasons You Become Dehydrated in Winter
A few reasons you might become dehydrated in the winter include:
1. Indoor Heating
While the heat on in our homes and offices keeps us warm and cozy during the winter, it can also contribute to drier air. With the summertime bringing more humidity and moisture, we might not recognize just how dry our homes become in the colder months. Spending more time indoors in the winter keeps us exposed to the dry heat for most of our day, further increasing our risk of dehydration.
2. Breathing Cold Air
We experience water loss by breathing cold, dry air. Every time you "see your breath" when talking or breathing in cold temperatures, water evaporates from your body. The drier the air and the more intense exercises you do outside, the more water you lose. Winter activities like snowboarding, skiing, and ice skating can cause us to lose more fluids from breathing without us even noticing. Essentially, the more heavily you breathe, the more vapor you produce and lose.
3. Sweat Going Unnoticed
In the winter, sweating can go unnoticed, tricking us into thinking we don't need water. Even when we're not sweating, we lose water through our skin, urination, and other processes. To stay on top of hydration, drink plenty of water in the winter — especially after outdoor physical activities. While cold temperatures might make us less perceptive to it, we are constantly losing water.
This isn't limited to high-intensity exercises either. Walking or shoveling snow in the winter, for instance, are two activities that can cause sweating and fluid loss. But since your body doesn't heat up as much, you're less likely to notice how hard you're working or that you're actually sweating.
4. Lack of Thirst
Breathing in cold air can reduce our thirst sensation, since blood vessels constrict when we're cold, preventing blood from flowing freely to our hands, feet, and other extremities. Essentially, the process causes our bodies to conserve heat by drawing more blood to the core. However, this bodily process also makes it challenging to know when to replenish fluids. We might believe we're properly hydrated when we aren't thirsty because our body isn't conserving water. In addition, since our body doesn't signal to our kidneys to conserve water, urine production increases.
Over time, this can lead to decreased fluid intake and increased fluid loss, causing dehydration.
5. Extra Clothing
While cozy, bundling up in your favorite winter coat, hat, and scarf is another cause of dehydration in winter. Adding layers of clothing to our bodies increases weight and makes us work harder. In turn, we sweat more and lose more water. Since it can be challenging to recognize when you're sweating in cold weather, you might not realize when it's time to drink water — increasing your risk of dehydration.
6. Cold and Flu Symptoms
Respiratory illnesses like the cold and flu are more common in the winter. With people indoors more often, viruses can more easily spread from person to person. Most cold symptoms, including a runny nose, sneezing, watery eyes, and post-nasal drip, are produced by the immune system using water. Unless you're consistently replenishing these fluids, your cold symptoms can be dehydrating.
Mucus production is the primary symptom that can cause dehydration, though other infections can diminish your fluid reserves through fever and sweating, vomiting, diarrhea and loss of appetite.
Winter Dehydration Symptoms
Like hot weather dehydration, winter dehydration symptoms depend on whether the condition is mild, moderate, or severe.
Mild symptoms can include:
- Headaches: Dehydration results from your body losing more fluids than it takes in. Since the brain requires water to function, dehydration often leads to headaches.
- Dizziness: Not drinking enough water can cause dizziness from decreased blood volume and flow to the brain.
- Dry mouth: With dehydration also comes reduced saliva, making dry mouth a common indicator.
- Lack of energy: Water helps the body transport crucial nutrients and oxygen to the cells responsible for energy production. As a result, you may experience a lack of energy without replenishing fluids.
- Dry skin: As your body conserves water and reduces sweat production, it can cause the skin to feel dry and tight.
Severe dehydration signs and symptoms can include:
- Muscle cramps
- Rapid breathing
- Deep yellow urine
- Increased heart rate
- Not urinating regularly
- Impaired focus, attention, and motor coordination
Dehydration complications can include seizure and shock, making it crucial to take any of the above symptoms seriously.
6 Tips to Stay Hydrated
Water is crucial in regulating many bodily processes and functions. For instance, it helps transport nutrients, removes waste from the body, and hydrates our tissues and organs. Drinking water also helps your body maintain a proper temperature, helping prevent hypothermia when it's cold outside. Plus, staying hydrated supports the immune system, which is beneficial during peak cold and flu season.
You should aim to drink at least eight glasses of water a day. A water filtration solution can contribute to better-tasting and smelling water. Appreciate a crisp taste and a more enjoyable experience with every glass — which can promote hydration.
Here are some tips on how to stay hydrated in winter:
1. Always Have Water Near You
Keep water close by to get into the habit of regularly replenishing fluids. Make it easier by taking a water bottle with you wherever you go or keeping a pitcher at your desk if you work from home. Having a visual reminder can ensure you sip and refill your glass throughout the day.
You might also establish a daily water goal. It'll help you keep track of how much water you drink so you know when to continue or when to stop. You'll find plenty of apps to track the glasses you drink, or you can write the amount down if that's more convenient. Start with a glass of water by your bedside table to drink as soon as you wake up. Aim to sip on your water throughout the day.
2. Drink Water Even When Not Thirsty
Drinking water even when you're not thirsty can combat the lack of thirst you might experience in colder temperatures. It's especially crucial in the colder months when indoor heating and layering our clothing can increase fluid loss. Our bodies are up to 70% water. Drinking water is rejuvenating and keeps our cells functioning properly.
Often, thirstiness is the first indicator that we are already dehydrated. By maintaining healthful hydration habits, you can prevent dehydration and its associated health complications. To drink water more regularly, try the following tips:
- Set a schedule: Establishing specific times to drink throughout the day can remind you to hydrate. For example, you might start by drinking water first thing in the morning or before meals.
- Use apps or reminders: It can be easy to forget to drink water, especially on busy days. To combat this, take advantage of phone reminders and apps that remind you to drink water at specific times of the day.
- Use a straw: Sipping water from a straw or sipper bottle can make drinking more convenient, helping you increase your intake.
While an ongoing process, making these tips part of your routine can ensure you drink the proper amount of water to avoid dehydration in winter.
3. Hydrate After Physical Activity
Always consider your workout water needs, especially when exercising outdoors in the winter. The more intense your workout, the more water you'll lose from sweating and breathing in cold, dry air. Combat this by drinking a half cup of water for every 15 minutes of exercise. Whether working outside in the cold or doing something fun like snowboarding, staying hydrated can help replenish lost fluids and boost your energy.
Along with water, you might incorporate electrolyte-replacing beverages or snacks to maintain proper fluid balance throughout the body. Sports drinks, coconut water, and other beverages can help. Eating foods with high water content, like cucumbers and celery, can also contribute to hydration. Say safe by drinking water before, during and after your workout — regardless of how thirsty you feel.
4. Drink Warm Beverages
Hydration isn't limited to just water. Warm teas, milk, and hot cocoa can make hydration more enjoyable while adding comfort to your cold winter day. Try adding these drinks to your routine:
- Herbal teas: Opt for teas like peppermint, ginger, or chamomile in the winter. They'll provide warmth while offering various health benefits.
- Warm water with lemon and honey: Squeeze a fresh lemon into warm water to create a comforting, hydrating drink. Adding honey will increase the health benefits, as it contains, antibacterial and antimicrobial properties that help fight viruses and treat colds, which are more common in the winter.
- Warm milk: Consider warming a glass of milk or non-dairy alternatives like oat or almond milk. These beverages can provide hydration while being a source of protein and calcium.
- Hot cocoa: Hot cocoa is a quintessential winter beverage that offers coziness to a cold winter day. Indulge in a hot cocoa to get the hydration your body needs.
5. Try Flavored Water
You can infuse your water to make hydration more enjoyable. You might drop pieces of fruit, like diced apples, in your water or add an unsweetened tea bag to increase your fluid intake. Here are some more ideas and tips for infusing your water to avoid dehydration in winter:
- Use slightly warm water: Instead of cold water, opt for room temperature or slightly warm water before infusing it, which can make it more enjoyable to drink in colder temperatures. To create your drink, heat the water and add your flavors, allowing them to steep for a few minutes before straining and drinking.
- Add winter-friendly fruits and herbs: Consider seasonal fruits like oranges and grapefruits, cranberries, and herbs like cinnamon sticks and rosemary to infuse your water.
- Try warm herbal infusions: You can also experiment with herbal infusions like ginger, mint, or chamomile. Simply steep the herbs in warm water to create a tasty, soothing beverage.
Try switching up these flavors each day and incorporate something new to have fun with your hydration.
6. Add Soups to Your Diet
Consuming fluid-filled foods and soups is another ideal way to add water to your daily diet. While many fruits aren't in season during the winter, hot soups and broths can warm you up while providing hydration and nourishment in the colder months. You might try vegetable soup or chicken noodle. Other water-rich foods you might incorporate into your diet include green leafy vegetables, citrus fruits, tomatoes, and cucumbers.
It's also crucial to limit your intake of processed foods, caffeine, and alcoholic beverages, as these can draw moisture from the body and flush out water and electrolytes. For every caffeinated beverage you consume, drink an equal amount of water to prevent dehydration. Additionally, you might swap alcoholic drinks for mocktails. Alcohol is a diuretic that can also interfere with a person's perception of cold, increasing the risk of hypothermia in the winter.
Stay Hydrated Through the Winter With Multipure's Water Filters
Just as we might use a humidifier and moisturizers to prevent dry skin in the winter, we can hydrate the body by drinking more water when the heat comes on. Colder temperatures can impact our perception of how often we sweat while reducing our thirst. Combat winter dehydration with healthful hydration habits, like keeping a reusable water bottle close by, adding water-rich foods, and infusing your water with flavor.
While it's crucial to drink plenty of water throughout the winter, the best hydration solution is clean water with reduced contaminants and chemicals. Multipure's water filters reduce contaminants like lead, forever chemicals, and arsenic, and provide better-tasting water for better hydration habits. Use filtered water to make better-tasting teas, soups, and other drinks and meals to keep you and your family hydrated all winter long.