How your brain functions in warmer months may have something to do with how hydrated you are.

Summer is in full swing, and temperatures are soaring. Unfortunately, this is also the time of year when many people suffer dehydration.

According to eMedicineHealth, dehydration occurs when “the loss of body fluids, mostly water, exceeds the amount taken in [through drinking].”

“People (and animals) lose water every day in the form of water vapor in the breath we exhale, and as water in our sweat, urine, and stool,” the website stated.

When a person becomes dehydrated, the body can lose its ability to function as it normally does.

Now, a new study from Atlanta’s Georgia Institute of Technology, published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, revealed that going even just two hours without fluid intake while exerting energy (exercising, working outdoors) and sweating in hot conditions can affect concentration, coordination, and complex problem-solving.

“There’s already a lot of quantitative documentation that if you lose 2 percent in water it affects physical abilities like muscle endurance or sports tasks and your ability to regulate your body temperature,” said Mindy Millard-Stafford, co-author of the study and a professor at Georgia Tech’s School of Biological Sciences, according to a Georgia Tech press release. “We wanted to see if that was similar for cognitive function.”

As her test subjects lost water, they did indeed make errors while performing even the simplest of activities that required them to be focused and alert, and this can lead to accidents.

Millard-Stafford said that “maintaining focus in a long meeting, driving a car, [and performing] a monotonous job in a hot factory” are just some of the abilities that can become affected due to dehydration.

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“Higher-order functions like doing math or applying logic also dropped off,” she said. “The simplest reaction time tasks were least impacted, even as dehydration got worse.”

 

Lisa S.

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Shutterstock


Being thirsty, feeling dizzy, developing nausea, and having headaches are some indicators that you could be dehydrated, reported Healthline.

Even though Millard-Stafford’s research shows the importance of keeping hydrated, she also warns about the dangers of overdoing it.

“You can have too much water, something called hyponatremia,” she said. “Some people overly aggressively, out of a fear of dehydration, drink so much water that they dilute their blood and their brain swells.”

Mindy Millard-Stafford
Professor Mindy Millard-Stafford of Georgia Institute of Technology.

Christopher Moore

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Georgia Tech


This can lead to seizures or even death.

It is currently recommended that people drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water every day, but more may be necessary in the summertime.

Additionally, if you sweat a great deal, Millard-Stafford said you need some salt in your diet or else the water you drink will not be retained.



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