Describe the signs and symptoms of hydration levels, including dehydration, hyperhydration and hypohydration. You should describe the physiological and psychological signs and symptoms that will tell an athlete their hydration levels.
There are advantages and disadvantages with regards to different energy levels. There are also signs and symptoms to each different level of hydration.
Dehydration occurs when the body loses more fluid than it takes in. The signs and symptoms of dehydration are varied as to the severity, at about a 2% loss in fluid the symptoms are:
* Thirst- this will diminish your performance as your concentration levels go down. It is common for athletes’ performance levels to drop in the last 15 minutes due to a lack of fluid intake.
* Loss of Appetite- this will lead to further fatigue and weakness other than that already associated with dehydration. This again will lead to a diminished performance.
* Dry Skin- this will cause a problem with regards to heat loss. Heat loss is obtained commonly through sweating and from the sweat droplets evaporating off the skin, however if the skin is dry it will delay the sweating process.
* Skin Flushing- this is where a redness of the skin occurs and it is caused by a lack of water being supplied to the surface of the skin.
* Dark Coloured Urine- this shows that fluid concentration is high and is an obvious sign that fluid levels in the body are low.
* Dry Mouth- this is scientifically known as Xerostomia and is caused by a lack of saliva in the mouth and throat and shows that the mucus membranes are drying out. This will cause a problem in breathing and will cause breathing to be uncomfortable.
* Fatigue or Weakness- this is due to the lack of oxygen being carried around the body. Oxygen is carried around in blood plasma which is constructed mainly of fluid. If less oxygen is being carried around the body this means the athlete’s muscle will not be able to perform to the best of their ability.
* Chills- this is commonly associated with dehydration and shows shivering with paleness and a coldness of the skin.
* Head Rushes- this is caused by a lack of water to the brain meaning that it will receive a sudden rush every so often. This lack of water is a problem for athletes due to the initial pain obviously but it can create problems with regards to nerve impulses; if there is a depletion of fluid to the brain then the regularity of nerve impulses also decreases.
There are slightly more severe symptoms when fluid loss gets to 5%:
* Increased heart rate- this will make your heart work harder to pump blood around the body; more oxygen will be used along with more energy.
* Increased respiration- this will lead to more energy being used to perform the functions needed. Your will become tired a lot easier and quicker.
* Decreased sweating- this will become a big problem and even more so if you are playing in a hot climate; your body will struggle to lose heat efficiently as the sweat usually evaporates off your skin causing heat loss.
* Decreased urination- this will mean your body is trying to retain fluid
* Increased body temperature- your body will be working harder to cool your body down via sweat etc. which requires a lot more energy.
* Extreme fatigue- an athlete would struggle greatly if this occurred and your body would try be trying extremely hard to transport oxygen to the required; however remembering that oxygen travels in the blood plasma that consists of 90% fluid, it means that muscle will struggle to get the required oxygen.
* Muscle cramps- an athlete wouldn’t be able compete whilst experiencing cramp; this can be seen often in competitions such as a cup final in football. It is caused by a lack of oxygen being supplied to the muscles; fluid will help to transport the oxygen in the blood plasma to the required muscles.
* Headaches- these are caused by a lack of oxygen to the head; again, blood is carried in the blood plasma which is consists of 90% fluid.
* Nausea- this in simple terms is vomiting and occurs when signals from nervous system struggle to correspond correctly from the ear to the eye and visa versa. This can confusion in the nervous system can occur when there is not enough fluid in the blood plasma to transport them fast enough.
* Tingling of the limbs- this is caused by a numbness forming through a lack of oxygen to the muscle tissue; this muscle tissue will begin to rip therefore and due to the lack of protein etc. being transported to the muscle, tingling will begin.
Finally, at the stage in which 10% of fluid loss is obtained there are even more severe signs and athletes rarely experience these symptoms whilst competing because they quite simply could not compete:
* Muscle spasms
* Racing pulse
* Shrivelled skin
* Dim vision
* Painful urination
* Difficulty breathing
* Chest and Abdominal pain
Hyperhydration occurs when the normal balance of electrolytes in the body is pushed outside of safe limits by over-consumption of water. It can potentially cause a fatal disturbance in brain functions. There are also signs and symptoms however they are not as prominent. These symptoms are:
* Water retention- this is also known as oedema and this is the accumulation of excess water under the skin or in the body cells. This retention of fluid appears as swelling. It causes swelling of the fingers, legs, ankles, feet, abdomen & breasts (in women).
* Abdominal bloating- this is a follow on from water retention and is caused by the accumulation of water underneath the cells in the abdominal walls. This appears as swelling.
* Breast tenderness (in women) – this is another follow on from water retention and again is caused by the accumulation of water underneath the breast tissue.
* Weight gain- this is caused by the cells within the body swelling through water retention; the more water you take on board then the more weight you are going to put on.
With various tests and after being questioned and checked by a doctor you may find that you have high levels of aldosterone, which is thought to increase in the presence of stress, high levels of oestrogen(in women), and low levels of magnesium and dopamine.