how does dehydration of the body happen during winter months?

Posted on 2014-01-05
Last Modified: 2014-01-07
Hello and Good Afternoon Everyone,

              During the hot days of summer, I can understand how the human body can dehydrate because it is loosing water and electrolytes through perspiration or sweat.  However, I am wondering how the very same thing can happen during the cold winter months.  Does dry, cold air suck the moisture out of the skin sort of speak, thus, causing dehydration?

               Any shared input to this question will be greatly appreciated.

               Thank you

Question by:GMartin
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Expert Comment

ID: 39758239
Yes I know (but not that my post violated it). But this policy is [being] applied only selectively -- in my observation.  A uniform application promotes not only fairness but also enhances respectfulness (for moderators and administrators at E-E). Please, it's an opinion only.

Respectfully: Prefer not to repost. Thanks and Regards.
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Accepted Solution

lherrou earned 350 total points
ID: 39758280

There's a number of things going on. As the air gets colder, less moisture is present. So any moisture on the surface of our body is more likely to evaporate (and yes, you do still sweat in cold weather!). In addition, we lose more moisture through breathing, since the air is so much dryer. At the same time, heating is drying the air indoors, so when we are indoors where it's warm, we are also losing moisture.

As well as that, our bodies produce vasopressin when it's cold, which is a diuretic - so we shed water and essentially end up with "thicker blood", in other words, a shift towards less total body hydration.

Now, to top it off, when it's cold we often feel less thirsty, so we drink less...

Hope that helps,
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Expert Comment

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phoffric, You are a gem of a moderator. Your thoughtful comments are not only much appreciated but also agreed with wholeheartedly. (Perhaps, my previous overreaction is an expression of latent anger with a previous moderator's impolite and pontificating comment). Please forgive me. :-)

ModeIT, Why should I make these efforts when there are topic advisors, moderators, and administrators to perform such duties? One must take care of one's own business only and not interfere with another's. That'd be enough. You mean well, however, and I do appreciate your effort in suggesting a solution. :-)

lherrou, Much thanks for taking time to write the answer. Thank you. :-)
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Expert Comment

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ModeIT, Everything in life is like that. Pre-excuses are neither here nor there, i.e., they are nothing but unneeded excuses and serve no purpose. If and when a complaint is made, then "oops, it slipped through the crackes" is more than acceptable. Lest it be forgotten, it works both ways, hence the need for not to be impolite, as you and phoffric has demonstrated in the most graceful manner.

Thanks and Regards and Cheers. :-)

[Note: As I usually say: mistakes make us human. And I am a volunteer too. ;-)]
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Assisted Solution

aadih earned 150 total points
ID: 39760714
Main reasons (from an article at: < > from which the following are extracted. FWIW, please note that I have no direct knowledge to contribute on the subject):

(1) “People just don’t feel as thirsty when the weather is cold.”

(2) "We lose a great deal of water from our bodies in the winter due to respiratory fluid loss through breathing. Our bodies also are working harder under the weight of extra clothing, and sweat evaporates quickly in cold, dry air."

(3) "There are two factors that trigger the response of this fluid-regulating hormone. As our bodies lose water, sodium levels in the blood increase. Overall blood volume also decreases. These two responses trigger the hypothalamus to secrete AVP, which causes the kidneys to slow down their production of urine. This restores body fluid. At the same time, the hypothalamus signals the brain's cortex to create a thirst drive to force the increased water intake needed to restore the normal salt level.
To find out why the body reacts differently in the cold, Kenefick subjected individuals to the cold chambers at UNH, where they both exercised on a treadmill and rested. During cold exposure, he explains, vasoconstriction takes place – the body decreases blood flow to the periphery of the body to decrease heat loss.
What he also discovered was that, because blood volume at the body’s core increases, the brain does not detect blood volume decrease. Thus, the hormone AVP is not secreted at the same increased rate, despite elevated blood sodium. The kidneys get a diminished signal to conserve fluid, and thirst sensation is reduced by up to 40 percent."

Author Comment

ID: 39763980
Hello and Good Evening Everyone,

                Thanks so much for the responses given to my question.  Upon reading and re-reading the answers, I must say that I now have a comprehensive picture of how excess fluid loss can happen during the cold winter months.  Every point brought up was easy to understand and further validated by detailed, behind-the-scenes biological and chemical reactions that take place when fluid loss occurs under cold conditions.  Out of respect to noting this, I decided it would be only fair to share up the points.  

                 In closing, thanks once again for the details given here.  It certainly made for some enlightening and thought-provoking reading.  


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