Myth #1: Dehydration is uncomfortable, but not dangerous.
Fact: While most of us will only ever experience mild dehydration symptoms like headache, sluggishness, or decreased urine/sweat output, it can become severe and require medical attention. Serious complications include swelling of the brain, seizures, kidney failure, and even death, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Myth #2: If you’re thirsty, you’re already dehydrated.
Fact: It’s not too late. In fact, thirst is the body’s way of telling you to drink water, and you are not at risk of becoming dangerously dehydrated the minute you feel parched. When you get thirsty the deficit of water in your body is trivial because your body is a very sensitive gauge. You might actually have only about a 1% reduction in your overall water. The solution is to drink some fluid, preferably water.
Myth #3: Everyone needs to drink 8 glasses of water a day.
Fact: This general rule of thumb is outdated, influenced today mostly by bottled water companies. So how much do you need to drink? Men roughly need to drink 3 liters (102 oz.) every day, and women require about 2.2 liters (78 oz.) per day. However, body weight has a lot to do with it. A good rule of thumb is to divide your body weight by 2 and drink that many ounces of fluid per day (example: 200 lbs. = 100 ounces).
Myth #4: Clear urine is a sure sign of hydration.
Fact: While keeping an eye on your urine output maybe isn’t the most pleasant summer activity, it really can provide a measure of how hydrated (or dehydrated) you are. But it’s not clear urine that you are looking for, rather a pale yellow. (see Dehydration Urine Color Chart)
Myth #5: There is no such thing as drinking too much water.
Fact: Over hydrating can be extremely dangerous – but it is relatively rare. Drinking too much water leads to hyponatremia, when levels of sodium in the body are so diluted your cells begin to swell. This usually causes nausea, vomiting, headache, confusion and fatigue, and can escalate to seizures and coma.
Myth #6: Exercise and hard work need sports drinks.
Fact: If you are working out for less than an hour, water will do just fine. You don’t deplete electrolyte and glycogen reserves until you’ve been exercising intensely or performing moderate-hard work in heat and humidity for more than an hour.
Myth #7: Coffee, tea, and soft drinks dehydrate you.
Fact: Only if you overdo it. While caffeine is dehydrating, the water in coffee, tea, and soda more than makes up for the effects, ultimately leaving you more hydrated than pre-coffee or pop. Consuming more than 3-5 cups of coffee or 40 ounces of soda could put you at risk for dehydration. Just remember to limit your caffeine input, drink in moderation and supplement with good old water. (see 5 Healthy Hydration Tips)