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What Is Winter Dehydration + How Does It Affect You?

What Is Winter Dehydration + How Does It Affect You?



o you feel parched when it’s cold? That’s the surprising effect of winter dehydration. The frosty air nips at your nose as you head out the door, even though you’re bundled up in your warmest winter gear. The last thing on your mind is feeling thirsty—after all, it’s cold outside. But before you dismiss drinking water as just a summer concern, you may want to think again. Dehydration during the chilly months is more common than you might expect, and failing to get enough fluids can spell big trouble for your health.

How is it possible to get dehydrated when it’s cold?

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The dry air and blasting furnaces in our homes during winter pull moisture from our bodies more rapidly. We also tend not to feel as thirsty in cold conditions, even though our hydration needs remain steady year-round. Many tempting hot winter drinks like coffee and cocoa can also be lowkey dehydrating. Over time, mild dehydration that can creep up on you takes a toll on everything from your energy levels and immunity to your mental sharpness, and even your skin, hair, and nails. Think of staying hydrated as giving your body the liquid love it needs to function at its best all winter long.

Negative effects of winter dehydration

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Dehydration during winter can have serious negative impacts on your health. When your body lacks sufficient fluids, it causes stress at the cellular level and impairs the normal function of your critical bodily systems. Being dehydrated in cold weather also strains your cardiovascular system, forcing your heart to work harder to pump blood as your blood volume drops. This leads to decreased blood flow, elevated heart rate and blood pressure, and reduced oxygen reaching your body’s tissues.

Lack of fluids also stresses your nervous system. Even mild dehydration can impair concentration, memory, mood, and brain performance. Severe cases can induce confusion, fainting, and seizures. Dehydration headaches are also common. Water is essential for flushing toxins and waste from cells and organs like your kidneys and liver. When dehydrated, dangerous levels of toxins can accumulate and the kidneys may struggle to filter effectively. This puts you at higher risk for issues like kidney stones and urinary tract infections.

In addition, being dehydrated negatively impacts digestion, often causing constipation and symptoms like bloating and nausea. Nutrient absorption and transport within the body are possible with sufficient fluid. Maintaining hydration is critical for healthy skin, nails, and hair as they rely on water to help with processes like new cell generation. Left unresolved, chronic dehydration stresses all the body’s systems. It induces inflammation and leaves you more vulnerable to a host of issues over time like high blood pressure, diabetes complications, heart disease, and stroke. It can also seriously damage your quality of life and even cut your life short in dire cases.

Here’s how to outsmart sneaky cold weather dehydration

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Keep a water bottle or cup with a straw by your side to sip from throughout the day. Shoot for half your body weight in fluid ounces as a daily goal. You can also add sliced citrus, berries, Kiwi, or melon to liven up a glass of water with natural sweetness and electrolytes. Herbal tea, sparkling water, broth-based soups, and fruits and veggies with high water content are other options for bumping up your fluid intake.

Don’t let the winter chill fool you when it comes to hydration. Staying on top of your fluid needs now helps ensure you feel energized, healthy, and vibrant all season long, even when there’s a chill in the air. Think refreshment and drink up.

Featured image: PeopleImages/iStock

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