This Subtle Health Issue Can Sneak Up On You In The Winter, According To Experts

Am I the only one who’s noticed that the beverages you crave change with the season? Case in point, once pumpkin spice season is in full swing, the ice-cold water bottle that cooled you down all summer long gets kicked to the curb, and it’s hello to-go mug full of PSL through Thanksgiving. Then winter happens, and personally, the only drinks I’m sipping on during this time of year are tea, coffee, and cocoa. Sound familiar? Well, if you’re only thirsty for warming drinks this time of year, then it’s really no wonder why you’re so dehydrated in the winter because, clearly, you and I aren’t meeting the daily H2O requirement.

Look, you could definitely try to make the argument that tea and coffee are technically water, but riddle me this, my friend: How many cups of tea or coffee are you actually downing per day? And is your sip of choice decaffeinated? Because the thing, if you aren’t drinking six to eight glasses of the stuff over the course of the day, and most of the mugs you’re refilling are full of caffeine, the odds of your body being sufficiently hydrated are, I'm sorry to say, kind of slim.

Of course, I’m not a doctor, nor am I a nutritionist, so please don’t take this as a personal attack against your drinking habits on my part. It’s none of my business, really, but it is my job to relay the facts, and truth be told, you’re more likely to become dehydrated in the winter than you are in the warm weather months. That’s just science, but it’s also physiological, so if you’ve ever wondered what’s actually happening behind the scenes when you suddenly feel incredibly parched, I reached out to Dr. Clare Morrison of MedExpress to clarify what it actually means to be truly dehydrated.

“Dehydration occurs when you use or lose more fluid than you take in, and your body doesn't have enough water and other fluids to carry out its normal functions,” Dr. Morrison tells Elite Daily. “When too much water is lost from the body, the organs, cells, and tissues fail to function as they should, which can lead to dangerous complications.”

As per the Mayo Clinic, anyone can become dehydrated, and yes, it typically happens when you don’t drink enough water/fluids throughout the day, but it can also be the result of your being ill — your body loses a lot of fluid when you have diarrhea or vomit — if you’re running a fever, or sweat or urinate more than normal. Symptoms of dehydration, according to the medical center, can include extreme thirst, fatigue, dizziness, and confusion. And if these signs aren’t enough to give it away, the dark yellow color of your urine will.

So why winter? What is it about these next few chilly months that turns you off of drinking water by the gallon every day? According to Jessica Rosen, a certified holistic health coach and the co-founder of Raw Generation, there are a few things to consider here. The first, Rosen tells Elite Daily, is that, in the summertime, it’s hot and humid outside, and under those circumstances, there’s nothing quite as refreshing as a tall, ice-cold beverage. In the winter, on the other hand, conditions are frigid, so it's easy to feel less thirsty as a result. “Due to constricted blood vessels, our thirst response is lessened when our bodies are cold,” she explains. “This tricks the body into conserving less water than it would in warm weather.”

Evidently, the wintertime plays tricks on your brain, too. Bryant Johnson, personal trainer to Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and member of The Vitamin Shoppe Wellness Council, tells Elite Daily that, because sweat evaporates more quickly in cold air, you don’t realize just how much sweat your body’s actually losing. Ergo, in the winter, you aren’t usually thinking in terms of how much you need to drink in order to compensate for the loss of fluid, whereas you probably would think about these things in the summertime, when it’s 100 degrees outside and you’re literally melting like a human popsicle.

And remember, dehydration isn’t necessarily an issue of not drinking enough water. Again, dehydration, as per the Mayo Clinic, can happen as a result of being sick — and what’s another name for winter? That’s right, friend: cold and flu season. “A cold and flu episode can dehydrate you in obvious ways — think sweating, vomiting, and diarrhea,” experts from oral rehydration therapy brand, DripDrop ORS, tell Elite Daily. But less obvious symptoms, the experts add, like a runny nose or high fever, can do you in, too. So it’s crucial that you not only replenish with water, but with fluids that also have nutrients like electrolytes in them as well to get your body back on track.

I know myself, and I literally have to force myself to drink water year-round, but it’s especially important in the winter when your body and mind aren’t that inclined to crave anything but warm, cozy liquids, which don’t typically offer the body a significant amount of nutrients. Tough as it may be, though, and despite the delicious, sugary drinks this season has to offer, it’s really important to make sure you’re sipping enough water throughout the day, and incorporating more water-dense foods like cucumber and watermelon into your diet.

If it would help you stay on track, Susan Okonkowski, registered dietitian and health care manager at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, tells Elite Daily that a good way to make sure you're drinking enough is to make a "fluids schedule" to have specific points of time you should be drinking. Set an alarm on your phone, or just keep a water bottle marked with the times of day at your desk. It sounds excessive, but it's clearly necessary, so why not give it a try?