Dehydration – Easily Avoided, Often Overlooked
In a previous article, we addressed the importance of staying properly hydrated during an event or riding session and covered a regimen to achieve and maintain proper hydration before, during, and after the event to maintain rider health. Today, we’re going to cover the dangerous, and sometimes fatal, side effects of dehydration.
What is Dehydration?
The simple (and accurate) answer…
Dehydration is a lack of water, electrolytes, and other fluids in the body. But, there’s a bit more to it.
Every minute of every day our body loses water. We lose it in our sweat, in our urine, in our stool. We even lose it when we exhale our breath. All of us have experienced dehydration to one degree or another in our lifetime.
But did you know that most of us experience it on an almost daily basis? (About 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated.)
For the average human, that’s not the best news in the world. For a motorcycle rider, it’s even worse news. Here’s why.
How Does Dehydration Affect The body?
There’s much more to being dehydrated than feeling fatigued and thirsty.
There are certain severe dehydration symptoms that can drastically affect your performance while riding. These effects start out minimal but can become serious issues if left untreated.
- Cramps are one of the first significant side effects to occur once dehydration has taken effect. Cramps prevent you from properly controlling your bike. You need hydration. Get some water fast.
- Heat exhaustion is the next step up from cramps. Heat exhaustion can cause dizziness, nausea, headaches, vomiting, and other similar symptoms. Once exhaustion hits, your reaction time and motor skills will deteriorate rapidly. Pull over if you feel heat exhaustion approaching.
- Heat stroke has taken countless lives over the years. It’s like a silent assassin. It often strikes without warning. Shortness of breath, delirium, blacking out, rapid heartbeat, and fever are all symptoms of heatstroke. If you, or another rider, are experiencing these symptoms, it’s time to seek medical assistance immediately.
The Only Dehydration Treatment Is Prevention
Once you suspect dehydration, you need to hydrate yourself immediately. That’s about all you can do at that moment. However, the best defense to prevent it from ever occurring. Below, you’ll find a few tips to help stay hydrated during your ride.
Drink plenty of fluids before, during, and after a ride. The rule of thumb is 16-20 ounces two hours before and 8-10 ounces 15-20 minutes before a session, 8-10 ounces ever 15 minutes during, and 16-20 ounces two hours after a session.
Avoid alcohol or caffeine before the ride. Both increase dehydration and increase your urine output.
Wear a hydration pack. Hydration packs are great for staying hydrated during a ride. Most come in the form of a backpack that contains a water reservoir inside of it, with a straw coming out of the pouch. You can drink from the straw hands-free while you’re riding. Just remember the rule of thumb while riding – 8-10 ounces every 15 minutes to avoid dehydration.
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