Stay Hydrated in Indoor Heat

When you think of staying hydrated, the warm summer months may come to mind. And while it's important to avoid dehydration when working or playing outdoors in summer's heat, it's just as crucial to maintain appropriate fluid levels when the temperature falls and you spend more time in heated indoor environments. How do you know if you're hydrated enough during the winter? What can you do if you aren't?

First, realize that you may not know that you're dehydrated. Sitting or standing in heated (or overheated) rooms during the winter does pull moisture from your body, but you may not be obviously sweating the way you do in warmer months. "It's much more subtle than if it's a hot, humid summer day," says Ruth Frechman, a registered dietitian and spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association.

Another problem? You may not be as thirsty as you are during the summer and so are less inclined to drink enough. Be on the lookout for signs that your body isn't taking in or retaining enough fluid. Your urine may be a bit dark, meaning that it's too concentrated, or you may have constipation. Are you feeling dizzy or faint after spending time in heated rooms? Unusually tired? All of these may signal a need for better hydration.

But you don't have to guzzle water bottle after water bottle the way you might while at the beach. You don't even necessarily have to limit yourself to water. Juice, soda, milk, coffee, and tea work well, Frechman says. "Fruits and vegetables are mostly fluid, and even ice cream works. If you don't like plain water, a mineral or sparkling water might be a good choice." Just be wary of overdoing alcoholic drinks, Frechman cautions, as alcohol acts as a diuretic-just the opposite of what you want.

One more thing to keep in mind: Those steamy hot showers and baths that feel so good at this time of year are major dehydrators. Keep your bathing sessions short and the water temperature somewhere south of scalding. If you start to feel nauseous or dizzy, get out of the bath or shower immediately and drink something cold. And be wary of spending too much time in hot tubs or saunas as well.