Stay hydrated during cold and flu season
The importance of staying hydrated if you are sick
It’s very important to stay hydrated during cold and flu season not only to prevent sickness, but to also help yourself recover quicker if you’re already sick. When you’re sick you might overlook the importance of continually drinking water throughout the day, but keeping yourself hydrated can get you that much closer to your healthy self.
First off, keeping yourself hydrated will improve your body’s overall functioning and effectiveness. Being dehydrated can slow your body processes and your immune system. This will slow the recovery process because your body is struggling to fight off the infection. By staying hydrated you can expedite the recovery process by keeping your immune system healthy. Also, staying hydrated can help the respiratory tissue that lines your lungs to your nose. Most people suffer from a wet cough that produces a lot of mucus, or a stuffy nose. Drinking plenty of fluids will keep these tissues moist and loosens up mucus so it’s easier to cough up or blow out of your nose. Warm beverages, such as decaffeinated tea, will also help loosen up mucus build up and can help with congestion.
Another huge benefit of staying hydrated is so that you can replenish your body of the fluids you lost if you have a fever. When you have a fever you typically sweat and lose water and electrolytes, especially salt. Electrolytes and water are crucial in keeping our body functioning properly. While drinking plain water is important, gaining back those electrolytes are important too. Many sports drinks like Gatorade and Powerade will help to replace those lost electrolytes. For children, Pedialyte is a great option. Try to incorporate both plain water and electrolyte-enhanced drinks into your daily routine if you’ve been experiencing a fever.
Sometimes it may be difficult to drink as much fluid as you need in one day. You can try some other options that will help you stay just as hydrated! Popsicles and jello are two low-calorie options that can help you stay hydrated without having to drink anything. It is still important though to drink fluids throughout the day. Another option is soups. Soups with lots of broth can provide you will salt, a critical electrolyte, and plenty of fluid as well. Try to avoid high-salt foods for they will dehydrate you even faster. If you eat a salty meal, drink plenty of water to balance it out.
Lastly, it’s important to be able to identify the signs and symptoms of dehydration, so you can intervene quickly! Mild to moderate symptoms can include dry, sticky mouth, sleepiness or drowsiness – especially in children, thirst, decreased urination or yellow urine, dry skin, headache, constipation, and dizziness or lightheadedness. Many of these symptoms can be resolved at home by pushing fluids and resting. The more severe symptoms may not easily resolve and hospitalization may be required. These include extreme thirst, extreme sleepiness, very dry mouth, lack of sweating, little to no urination, gold to brown urine, sunken eyes, shriveled to dry skin, low blood pressure, rapid heart beat and breathing, fever, and in the most serious cases, delirium or unconsciousness.
Dehydration can be easily prevented if you stay proactive and remember to drink fluids, replace lost electrolytes, and eat foods that provide you will fluids as well. If you notice any signs of dehydration, act quickly and drink plenty of water. By staying hydrated your body can help fight off the common cold and flu, and help you recover faster when you’re sick!