Yes, You Can Get Dehydrated in Cold Weather

Yes, You Can Get Dehydrated in Cold Weather

Cooler fall and winter weather is just around the corner. Adults and kids will soon be partaking in their favorite winter sports, but in addition to remembering to bundle up for the cold weather, hydration is another important consideration in winter.

We don’t often associate cold-weather exercise with dehydration. The body doesn’t get as hot, and sweat evaporates more rapidly in the cold air. Thus, we’re tricked into thinking we aren’t losing fluids as rapidly.

Dehydration is still a risk when playing in the snow, albeit, for different reasons than summer exercise.

What Causes Dehydration During Winter Months?

In cold weather, the body’s thirst response is diminished (by up to 40 percent even when dehydrated). This happens because our blood vessels constrict when we’re cold to prevent blood from flowing freely to the extremities. (If you’ve ever had cold hands in winter, you know the feeling.) This enables the body to conserve heat by drawing more blood to its core.

But because of this, the body is fooled into thinking it’s properly hydrated, e.g. you don’t feel as thirsty  and your body doesn’t conserve water. Thus, in cold weather, athletes are less likely to drink water voluntarily, and additionally, their kidneys aren’t signaled by hormones to conserve water and urine production increases, a condition call cold-induced urine diuresis.

So diminished thirst response and increased urine production are two contributing factors. Yet, there are several others that can lead to winter dehydration, including:

  • Wearing extra clothing. Heavy jackets, long underwear and other pieces of warm clothing help your body conserve heat. But the added weight is one factor that makes the body work between 10 and 40 percent harder.[ii] By working harder, the body produces more sweat, contributing to fluid loss.
  • Increased respiratory fluid loss. In cold weather, we lose more fluids through respiratory water loss. For example, when you can see your own breath, that’s actually water vapor that your body is losing. The colder the temperature and the more intense the exercise, the more vapor you lose when you breathe.
  • Sweat evaporates more quickly in cold air. We often think we aren’t sweating in cold, dry weather, because it tends to evaporate so quickly. This is another factor that can contribute to a diminished thirst response.

So the answer is a clear “Yes.” The dehydration risk remains in cold weather. Whether you’re hitting the slopes or spending an afternoon cross-country skiing – don’t forget to hydrate!

About Last Night: Facts about Hangovers

About Last Night: Facts about Hangovers

Ever wondered why the morning-after effects following a night of revelry really take the life out of you? The science behind why hangovers occur is still young, but here are a few facts you may not have known. 

Symptoms & Signs

  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Increased sensitivity to light and sound
  • Redness of the eyes
  • Muscle aches
  • Thirst
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Tremor
  • Sweating
  • Mood disturbances including depression, anxiety, and irritability

Poorer Performance with a Hangover

  • Reduced focus
  • Decreased mental endurance
  • Decreased mechanical accuracy
  • Impaired abilities while operating machinery, high-pressure decision-making, and with mental math

Dehydration 

  • Decreased ADH-Hormonal Secretion
  • 1L of fluid loss per 4 drinks
  • Excessive sweating
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Liver & Stomach Effects 

  • Toxic to the lining of the stomach
  • Increases pancreatic and intestinal acid secretion
  • Can cause gastroenteritis
  • Can Causes build up of fat compounds in liver cells, aka “fatty liver”

Low Blood Sugar 

  • Lactic acid build-up from alcohol breakdown causes low blood sugar
  • The brain is very sensitive to low sugar states this results in feelings of fatigue, weakness, and mood disturbances

Headache 

  • Vasodilation of blood vessels in the brain
  • Changes levels of hormones such as histamines, serotonin, and prostaglandins
  • This results in throbbing headache

Interference with Sleep 

  • Decreases the cycles of high quality, dream-state sleep, the kind that provides rest
  • Increases slow-wave, deep sleep
  • Causes snoring and sleep apnea, prolonged states of no breathing during sleep