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Dehydration - Information, Prevention, and Solution
By Grace Cunningham, Grade 8

It is one of the most difficult things to avoid in Florida – dehydration.   What is dehydration, you ask?  Well, as its name suggests, it is the deprivation of hydration.

In most cases, when the word “dehydration” is used, it is referring to the deprivation of hydration in humans or animals. Dehydration can cause a number of various problems throughout all times of the year; however, the summertime is when one is at the highest risk.  So, with summer quickly approaching, it is very important to be well-informed on the hazards of dehydration, as well as how you can prevent it.

What causes dehydration?  Simply, a lack of proper hydration can be the cause. However, sometimes dehydration is a symptom of the common cold or other similar illnesses. To prevent poor, inadequate hydration, drinking sufficient amounts of water is an easy precaution to take.  That said, how much water is enough to keep you healthily hydrated?  Eight eight-ounce glasses of water a day, or approximately two liters, is an adequate amount - at least.   Furthermore, if you're an athlete or are often outdoors in the heat, you'll need to drink some more than that daily measure.  Drinking water or sports drinks helps to replace sweat, the latter also aiding the recovery of carbohydrates and electrolytes lost during exercise.  It's important to stay amply hydrated before, during and after any strenuous exercise.

If you find yourself to be frequently dehydrated, one other solution is to add more high water content foods to your diet. Food provides about 30% of your body's needed water, and by eating more foods that have high water content, you'll naturally be more hydrated.  Keeping your salt intake at a reasonable level will also help improve your hydration.  Apples, watermelons, strawberries, lettuce, potatoes, zucchini, soups, yogurt, beans, and tofu are just some of the many foods that are high in water content.

Below are some of the symptoms of dehydration:

Thirstiness – The more serious the case of dehydration, the thirstier one becomes.

Dry Mouth – One’s mouth may feel sticky and stale (kind of how your mouth feels when you first wake up in the morning).

Headache – This may include lightheadedness, throbbing, or dizziness.

Fatigue – One who is dehydrated may feel sleepy, exhausted or may be struggling to keep their eyes open.

Limited or No Tears – If you’re crying, and few or no tears are coming out, you may be dehydrated.

Dry Skin – One’s skin may feel tight and parched.

Unusually Fast-Paced Breaths and/or Heartbeat – This could occur in severe cases.  

Fever – Fevers could develop in more serious cases of dehydration.

Fainting/Loss of Consciousness – In the most severe cases, one may lose consciousness.

To conclude: remember to drink plenty of water (adding extra when exercising or being outdoors in heat), put some high water content foods in your diet, and try not to take in crazy-huge amounts of salt.  If you keep these few tips in mind, dehydration shouldn't be a problem for you.

Sources:
http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/dehydration/DS00561 http://bloghydra.wordpress.com/2008/09/23/high-water-content-foods-help-hydrate-and-more/ http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/924989/water_content_of_fruits_and_veggies.html?cat=51

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Caffeine
By Maggie Poling, Grade 9

Caffeine may boost your energy, but is it really good for us?  To a certain extent, it can help us be more energized, focus better, and make us feel happy.  On the other hand, caffeine can also cause medical problems, give us “the jitters”, and provide us with what I like to call a caffeine hangover.  You know what I’m talking about.  Four hours after you drank that coffee when you’re irritable and sleepy again.  That’s not fun, is it?

You may know this, but for those of you who do not, caffeine is a drug.  It is naturally produced in the leaves and seeds of various plants, but can also be artificially produced.  Caffeine has been classified as a drug because it activates the central nervous system, giving you an increased amount of alertness.

The effects of caffeine can last for up to six hours, and side effects include: anxiety, dizziness, headaches, and the jitters.  Surprisingly, caffeine can also produce long-term medical ailments.

For example, caffeine can increase the chances of getting osteoporosis (a weakening of the bones due to loss in bone density and improper bone formation) because it causes the body to loose valuable calcium that enriches the bones.  In addition, caffeine has been proven
to irritate some heart problems, so be cautionary if you have cardiovascular issues.

The thing is, caffeine can be good for you…in moderation.  If you are an adult, experts consider 200-300 milligrams of caffeine per day to be sufficient.  For a teen, 100 milligrams is recommended.  Kids should consume even less than that.  Also, keep in mind that even 100 milligrams per day can create a dependency on the drug.  Surprisingly, that 100 milligrams is equal to about one cup of coffee.

After reading this far, consider whether or not you think you’re consuming too much caffeine.  If you think you are, then try to cut back, but do so slowly.  Otherwise, you increase your chances of feeling irritable and icky if you cut back all at once.  The easiest way to begin is to drink more water - the healthiest beverage for your system.  You may feel tired when your caffeine intake is lessened, and the best way to cure yourself of being sleepy is by sleeping more.  If you’re tired, your body is telling you to rest.  So, rest!  The effects of sleep will last much longer than that cup of “jo” or that Monster energy drink.

Source:
http://kidshealth.org/teen/drug_alcohol/drugs/caffeine.html

Emily Smith
6/14/2011 12:18:58 pm

I knew caffeine could be harmful, but I didn't realize it had long term effects. I guess I'll have to start cutting back.

Thanks for the read, Maggie.

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