Hydration

How do I know if I’m dehydrated?

Maintaining a good level of hydration is CRUCIAL for a singer or anyone that uses their voice for a living. It’s something that we can easily overlook and forget about. Most people only drink water when they feel thirsty and this is the body’s natural mechanism to make sure you stay hydrated. One of the easiest ways to tell whether your body is hydrated is by checking the colour of your urine during the daytime. If your urine is dark to light yellow then this is a warning sign you need to hydrate. If you are getting enough water intake then your urine should be a very pale yellow in colour; if it’s darker than this or you pass urine infrequently in small amounts then you should drink more water; in this state, your body is retaining as much fluid as it can. Other signs of dehydration may be the throat and mouth becoming dry or through headaches and tiredness. Another may be seen by applying a firm fingertip to your chest; when you release your finger you should notice a small white patch where the pressure has been applied to your skin; this should then quickly disappear within a second or two as the blood can be seen flowing back into your skin. Should your skin stay white then you need water intake; this type of sign can be seen during common illnesses such as colds, flus and stomach bugs.

How much water do we need?

There are lots of mixed messages and opinions about how much water we need on a daily basis and there are lots of variables person to person such as BODY MASS, the CLIMATE where you live, the amount of PHYSICAL ACTIVITY you do, your general level of HEALTH and AGE. It’s a common fact that your body is nearly two-thirds water so it’s important we drink lots of water regardless, however. Filtered or bottled mineral or tap water are obvious sources, but contrary to popular belief drinks like tea, coffee, milk and fruit juices also provide water as well as the food you eat, which can provide anywhere up to 20% of your total daily fluid intake. As a singer, however, it’s advisable to avoid a lot of caffeine and dairy due to drying out the tissues and thickening the mucus membranes in your throat. On top of the food, you eat it is widely recommended (per day) that women should drink around 1.6 litres and men, 2.0 litres of water. This may seem a lot, however, only you will know the difference. Remember that when you drink, water flows down your oesophagus and not down the opening where your vocal cords sit. Water has to be carried through the bloodstream to your vocal cords and this is a timely process. From the point of being dehydrated consider a 24-hour delay in hydrating the vocal cords!