Sports performance can be directly affected by dehydration, therefore adequate sports hydration
is vital for serious athletes.
Dehydration is the excessive loss of body fluid and is easily treated with proper sports hydration. There are three types of dehydration:
- hypotonic or hyponatremic – primarily a loss of electrolytes
- hypertonic or hypernatremic – primarily a loss of water
- isotonic or isonatremic – this is essentially an equal loss of water and electrolytes
The most common type of dehydration is isotonic dehydration which effectively equates with hypovolemia which is a state of decreased blood volume. The distinction of isotonic from hypotonic or hypertonic dehydration may be important when treating people who become dehydrated. Physiologically, inadequate sports hydration is not simply a loss of water, as water and solutes (mainly sodium) are usually lost in roughly equal quantities. Neurological complications can occur in hypotonic and hypertonic states.
Inadequate Sports Hydration Symptoms
Dehydration symptoms generally become noticeable after 2% of one’s normal water volume has been lost. Initially, one experiences thirst and discomfort, possibly along with loss of appetite and dry skin. This can be followed by constipation. Athletes may suffer a loss of performance of up to 30% and experience flushing, low endurance, rapid heart rates, elevated body temperatures, and rapid onset of fatigue.
If urine is not lightly colored to clear, you are probably dehydrated. If urinating more frequently than every 30-60 minutes you’re drinking too much. One liter of sweat lost = 2.2 pounds. Urinating every 2 to 4 hours is normal. The body needs .3 x its weight in fluid for the minimum number of ounces you require daily (eg: .3 x 150 lbs. = 45 fl. oz. or 5.25 8 oz. glasses of water). This does not include loss due to exercise.
Sports Hydration Tips:
Drink before you’re thirsty. If you’re thirsty, you’re already in the beginning stages of dehydration.
- Drink cool water not warm; at least 50-59 degrees F is recommended. Cool water is absorbed at a faster rate than warm water.
- The night before a competition, sports hydration is important. Drink 16 oz. before bed, 16 oz. upon awakening and if the competition is later in the day, another 17-20 oz. 2 hours before the competition, then another 6-8 oz. 15 minutes before the game, practice or workout.
- During exercise drink 7-10 oz. every 10 minutes to 20 minutes.
- Performance decreases when water loss is 2% of body weight.
- Within 2 hours after the competition drink 24 oz. of fluid for every pound lost.
The effects of dehydration include fatigue, irritability, thirst, headache, general discomfort, weakness and even dizziness. Without proper sports hydration, severe dehydration can result in vomiting, head or neck heat sensations, chills, nausea, cramping, extremely dry mouth, lips and/or throat, high heart rate, clammy skin or dry skin crusted with dried sweat and a decrease in performance.