If you’re feeling thirsty, you’re already dehydrated! How much is not enough?

lemonadeSummer lavender lemonade? Yes please! Have a sip, and test yourself – do you know the signs of dehydration?

You probably know in theory that when the temperatures kick up and you become more active in the summer, you should make an effort to stay hydrated. But how much liquid is necessary? How do you actually know if you, or a loved one, fall beneath safe levels of hydration?

The effects of dehydration are definitely not as straightforward as just feeling thirsty. (By the way, if you feel thirsty, you are already dehydrated!) Dehydration can cause an array of confusing or vague symptoms that can include feeling fatigued, irritable and unproductive, dry mouth, infrequent urination or dark urine, rapid heartbeat, low blood pressure, or could include headaches and/or muscle cramps or even seizures in extreme cases.

Athletes often fail to drink enough to compensate for the extra fluid they lose through sweat and respiration, and are especially at risk of dehydration in the summer months. Even the completely sedentary are at risk when high heat combined with dry air such as air-conditioning increase their bodies’ water needs. The elderly are also at high risk because they often restrict their liquid intake for fear of bladder control issues. In fact, dehydration is one of the most common causes of hospitalization for people over 65!

Chances are that high heat will tempt you to grab whatever cold liquid might be around, but be careful…many of today’s most popular choices, including flavored water, are loaded with empty, sweet calories that actually increase the body’s need for water. Alcohol also greatly increases the body’s water need and should not be included as part of your liquid intake.

So how to keep safe?

The average adult body should be consuming at least 2.5 liters of liquids, including that from water, herbal teas, fresh juice or broth, per day. On top of that, it is advised to drink 8 to16 ounces of fluid for every 30 minutes of exercise.

Also, stay cool. Stay out of the direct sun, and keep your indoor area cool by closing curtains to limit direct sun. Keep fans going. Exercise early in the day when the temperatures are still low. Take a cool bath or run through the sprinkler.

Mild dehydration should be able to be reversed just by carefully upping liquid intake. But if dehydration is ongoing, it can affect your kidney function and cause kidney stones to develop. It can also lead to liver, joint and muscle damage, cholesterol problems, and constipation. In cases of severe dehydration, it’s definitely not something to mess around with – one can even die from severe dehydration because the blood stops circulating.

Summer Lavender Lemonade

Need motivation to get your fluids up? Nothing beats a summer lavender lemonade. Keep a pitcher on hand in the fridge at all times – you won’t be able to stay away on the hot days!

In a large saucepan, bring 2 ½ cups of water and ½ cup of honey to a boil. Remove from the heat; add 1 -2 Tbsp of dried lavender flowers. Cover and let stand for 1 hour. Strain into a pitcher, discarding the lavender. Stir in 2 ½ cups of cold water and 1 cup of fresh squeezed lemon juice. Serve over ice. Enjoy! You can also feel free to add fresh mint, basil, grated ginger, or a few chamomile flowers to mix it up.