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What Is Dehydration?

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Updated September 04, 2013

What Is Dehydration

What Is Dehydration

Photo (c) Ryan Pierse / Getty Images
Definition: Dehydration refers to an inadequate amount of fluid in the body. Among athletes who participate in endurance sports or long workouts, dehydration can occur quickly. In general, a person is considered dehydrated when they have lost more than 2 percent of their body weight during exercise.

Adequate fluid intake is essential for athletes before, during, and after exercise. Whether to use sports drinks or just water depends upon your duration and intensity of exercise.

Symptoms of Dehydration

  • Dry or sticky mouth
  • Low or no urine output
  • very dark colored, concentrated urine
  • Not producing tears
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Skin may 'tent' when pinched (doesn’t bounce back quickly when released).

Preventing Dehydration

Athletes need to take certain precautions when exercising in the heat in order to prevent dehydration. Drinking the right fluids at the right times can help.

Proper Hydration for Athletes

Athletes need to stay hydrated for optimal performance. Studies have found that a loss of two or more percent of one's body weight due to sweating is linked to a drop in blood volume. When this occurs, the heart works harder to move blood through the bloodstream. This can also cause muscle cramps, dizziness and fatigue and even heat illness such as:

Examples:
Athletes who exercise for hours at a time can easily become dehydrated if they don't consume adequate fluids.
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