From the Hilbert College Wellness Center
by Kirsten Falcone, RN
There are numerous reasons college students visit their Wellness Center, ranging from colds to cuts, sore throats to stubbed toes. But one of the most common denominators is dehydration. Dehydration seems to be insidious in nature; that is, it takes root often without notice.
Think about it. You are a college student. You stay up late. You drink coffee or another caffeinated beverage. You walk to morning class. You drink caffeine. You finish studying and go out with your friends, and are more likely to imbibe alcohol. You may work late at night. You may be actively involved in your sport. You tend to forget to drink water because of your busy lifestyle. Or, you purposely do not drink water before class, because, honestly, you don’t want to have to excuse yourself for a bathroom break. Whatever the reason, many college students are dehydrated and don’t even know it.
But did you know that water is essential in just about every chemical reaction in your body? It is estimated that our body weight is actually 50-70 percent water. The fluids in our body have many functions, including dissolving and transporting substances, maintaining blood volume and body temperature, and tissue lubrication and protection. In addition, brain tissue is about 70 to 80 percent water (which is a good reason to drink water before class, after all!).
Signs of dehydration are thirst (or hunger), reduced need to urinate, urine that is darker than light yellow, dry skin, fatigue, and feeling faint. When we let ourselves become dehydrated, other symptoms may develop, including headaches, muscle cramps, constipation, dry mouth, bad breath, fever, drowsiness, low blood pressure, high pulse, depression, sore throat and kidney stones. In fact, not drinking enough water can lead to the body having a lower resistance to infection and disease.
But how much water should you drink? Currently, the recommended amount of H20 intake is 64 to 96 ounces (or more) per day (though some sources state up to 125 ounces for men). To put this in more understandable terms, this is the equivalent of four to six 16-ounce bottles of water, or eight to 12 8-ounce glasses of water. Daily water intake can also be attained from milk, decaffeinated tea or coffee, fruit juices, and produce. Here is one clue to keep in mind: If you feel thirsty, you are already dehydrated!
Some ways to prevent dehydration:
- Drink water before, during and after physical activities,
- Drink a glass of water after you brush your teeth in the morning and at night,
- Keep bottled water with you to sip throughout the day,
- Avoid alcohol and caffeine,
- Add a slice of lemon or orange to a pitcher of water, for a flavor boost,
- Eat water-rich foods like soup, salad, melon and broccoli
For further information, try these Internet resources:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
– Annual Hilbert College Veteran’s Dinner was held last week and hosted by Brad Hafner, a former Hilbert Trustee. The Veteran’s Dinner is a testament to Brad’s commitment to helping Hilbert’s Veteran students. Hilbert’s Hafner Veterans Center (which was recently relocated) is named in Brad’s honor. Thank You Brad!
– Criminal Justice major, Corey Lincoln, was chosen to receive a Veteran’s Scholarship from The Rotary Club. Corey currently serves as the Student Veteran’s Association President and is graduating this coming May with a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice. Congratulations Corey!
From the Hilbert College Wellness Center
By Kirsten Falcone, RN
Whenever you go to the doctor for a physical, someone routinely takes your blood pressure. But do you understand what the numbers mean?
There are two numbers used in recording blood pressure. Systolic blood pressure is the pressure at which blood is propelled through the arteries when your heart beats or contracts. Diastolic is measured between beats when the heart is at rest. A normal blood pressure, then, is when the systolic pressure is less than 120 and the diastolic reading is less than 80 (119/79 or below). Prehypertensive blood pressure is slightly elevated but not yet hypertensive or emergent. A prehypertensive reading is between 120 and 139 systolic and 80-89 diastolic. If someone has a prehypertensive reading, that is considered a warning sign to begin making lifestyle changes. Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is defined as a blood pressure reading of 140/90 or above. In addition, only one of these numbers needs to be elevated in order to be considered “high.”
Why is it so important to control your blood pressure? Blood that is moving too quickly through your arteries can be compared to using a garden hose instead of a fire hose. Eventually—probably sooner than later—that “garden hose” is going to wear out or break. Like a garden hose, arteries can transport only a certain speed and volume of liquid.
Some causes of high blood pressure include a poor diet, not enough exercise, stress, medication (including, but not limited to, Ibuprofen, decongestants, migraine medications, birth control pills, and even some herbal supplements), smoking, drinking alcohol, being overweight, a family history, and older age.
Not as common, but of concern, is low blood pressure, or hypotension. Hypotension is when your blood pressure reading is below 90/60. This is of concern mostly for elderly people because of the possibility of not getting enough blood to the brain, heart and other organs. Young people with low blood pressure don’t usually need to be concerned. It’s when blood pressure drops suddenly that an emergent situation may exist, like blood loss, change in body temperature, or severe dehydration. Other factors that may cause low blood pressure include (again) some medications, pregnancy, heat exhaustion, liver disease, hypothyroidism, diabetes or hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).
The best way to control one’s blood pressure is to make key lifestyle changes. Eat a healthful diet, increase aerobic exercise, reduce stress, get enough sleep, be medication aware, stop smoking, decrease alcohol consumption, lose extra weight, and educate yourself on your family health history. That way as you grow older, you likely will enjoy good health.
For more information, see these sources:
FDA U.S. Food and Drug Administration: