Your body, muscles, breath, skin, food cravings, headaches may be telling you that you are low on fluids and might be in a state of dehydration. How often do you respond?
According to a report by CBS, 75% of Americans suffer from chronic dehydration.
This means that American population is drinking ten cups less water as recommended by the Institute of Medicine.
This water intake deficit of ten cups a day means that most people in the US and other parts of the world are in a state of chronic dehydration.
It comes as a surprise while most of us know and understand the importance of drinking water and fluids, still, we are chronically dehydrated.
Being in a state of dehydration and not drinking enough water and fluids can leave you feeling fatigued, lethargic, sick, nauseous, and even depressed.
It may even cause potentially fatal health complications such as seizures, blood clots, digestive issues, urinary tract infections, anxiety, and chronic fatigue.
Studies have found that hydration is essential. Even mild dehydration can have an adverse impact on energy levels and moods.
Hence it is not just essential but vital for everyone to understand and detect dehydration early on.
Feeling thirsty or tired are not the only signs of dehydration.
There are many signs and symptoms of dehydration you should know to look for. Identifying them may help prevent serious complications and health risks.
11 Warning Signs of Dehydration
Did you know that water composes about 60% of our bodies?
Moreover, water also composes 75% of our muscles and 85% of our brains. It is quite evident that water is pretty essential to our lives.
Hence, you cannot afford to take dehydration casually or it could inhibit many important functions of your body.
Here are 10 signs and symptoms of dehydration you should take seriously and stop it before it makes you seriously sick.
Also Read: Coconut Water – Everything You Should Know
1. It May Cause Pounding Headaches
Believe it or not, dehydration can cause nasty headaches. When your body is low on liquids including water, there is a chemical reaction which takes place.
Your brain is highly sensitive to this chemical reaction. The blood vessels in your brain dilate to keep up with the blood flow which causes inflammation and give you those nasty pounding headaches.
Your headaches can get worse as hydration levels drop because the more water you lose, your blood volume also drops.
As explained by Dr John Higgins, MD, associate professor of cardiovascular medicine at the University of Texas in Houston. “Human brain sits inside a fluid sack which prevents it from bumping against the skull. If the fluid sack is depleted or running low due to dehydration, chances are that the brain would push up against the skull which may cause headaches”.
A study found that losing body fluid by just 1.4% of body weight caused headaches and moodiness in healthy women. Similar results were observed in men too.
It has been also found that drinking water provided relief from headaches within 30 minutes of consuming it.
Next time you get a throbbing headache, drink water! It may help.
2. Have Bad Breath? You Could Be Dehydrated
Who does not get bad breath? everybody does especially in the morning.
Chances are, dehydration could be one of the reasons causing you bad breath.
There are many reasons to it. One of the major causes of bad breath is decreased saliva in the mouth which provides fertile ground for bacteria to grow and cause bad breath.
Dehydration can prevent your body from making enough saliva in your mouth which increases the growth of bacteria and causes bad breath.
Next time you get bad breath, chances are you are low on fluids and may be your body is giving you cues to replenish fluids and drink more water.
3. Dry Mouth & Thirst
A dry mouth is often the result of dehydration.
When you do not have enough fluids in your body, the salivary glands in your mouth don’t produce enough saliva which makes your mouth dry and you feel thirsty.
Thirst is often the first indicator and an automatic reminder to drink water. It is triggered by a complex system which regulates fluid balance in our bodies. Slightest of imbalance in fluids in the body triggers the sensation of thirst.
Take these as the obvious indicator that your body is low on fluids and needs hydration. Whenever your mouth goes dry, you know it is time to grab a glass of water.
4. Muscles Can Start Cramping
They hurt and hurt you bad especially when you are in bed.
Excessive sweating on a hot humid day or intense workout can strip your body of fluids and sodium (an electrolyte that plays a role in muscle contractions).
When your body is depleted of electrolytes and fluids, the muscles can contract involuntarily and you could end up with painful muscle spasms.
Whenever you sweat excessively, do not forget to hydrate yourself to prevent painful muscle cramps.
5. Makes You Feel Dizzy
Feeling dizzy or light-headed may be a sign of low blood pressure caused by dehydration. It makes you feel the rush in your head especially when you suddenly stand up.
At times, it may also make you feel weak and tired.
When fluids in the body and blood pressure are low, your heart has to work harder and faster to pump blood to the brain.
When you stand up suddenly, it takes a few seconds before blood reaches the brain making you feel dizzy.
The reason for dropped blood pressure is due to dehydration which lowers the volume of blood leading to lower artery walls pressure.
A small decrease in blood pressure may not be of much concern which can be remedied with a glass or two of water.
In the case of severe dehydration, blood pressure can drop down to dangerously low levels (Hypotension) requiring immediate medical attention. Common symptoms of extreme dehydration include fainting, blurred vision, nausea, and vomiting.
Common symptoms of extreme dehydration include fainting, blurred vision, nausea, and vomiting.
6. Increased Heart Rate & Palpitations
Dehydration may increase your heart rate and even cause palpitation.
Since the blood volume decreases due to depletion of fluids in the body, the heart has to work harder to pump blood and deliver it to all organs in the body.
The additional hard work increases the heart rate and causes the blood vessels to constrict so that your blood pressure does not drop.
You might feel your heart is pounding, fluttering missing beats which are a result of your heart attempting to compensate for the lack of fluid in the body.
Rapid heart rate and palpitations are not the conditions caused by dehydration alone. These conditions may be caused by other underlying serious medical condition as well.
In case drinking water does not improve your condition, it is advisable to consult a medical professional immediately.
7. Increased Hunger & Sweet Cravings
Do you feel peckish more often even after have eaten enough food? It could be your body’s gentle indicator suggesting you are low on fluids and dehydrated.
Body organs such as liver use water to release glycogens and other components of your energy stores. When your body is low on fluids, it tricks your body and gives you hunger pangs.You get the hunger and thirst cues from the same part of the brain.
When your body is low on fluids, it tricks your body and gives you hunger pangs.You get the hunger and thirst cues from the same part of the brain.
You might crave for anything from chips to water-based foods, often the cravings for sweets are higher since your body finds it difficult producing glycogen.
Next time you get an urge or craving to snack, try drinking a glass of water and see it helps!
Urine color and amount is one of the best ways to identify dehydration. Your body maintains proper fluid balance by controlling the amount and composition of urine.
When you are dehydrated, the kidneys concentrate the urine and eliminate wastes from the body retaining water for important biological functions.
When you are dehydrated, your pee turns into a darker shade of yellow. Darker the color of urine means a higher ratio of water to waste.
If you notice your urine color other than pale yellow consistently, it could mean some other health condition and you should consult a medical professional.
9. Feel Fatigued And Sleepy?
Many times fatigue or tiredness can be due to dehydration.
Losing just 1 to 3% of fluids your body weight can make you mildly dehydrates and make you feel sleepy and fatigued during a normal day.
Dehydration lowers your blood volume and leads to low blood pressure. When your blood pressure lowers, it reduces oxygen content in the blood as well and slows down muscle and nerve function making you feel fatigued and sleepy.
Shake those feeling of fatigue and sleepiness at home or work. Grab a glass of water!
10. Reduced Elasticity & Dry Skin
Your skin os constituted of approximately 30% of water. Dehydration can make your skin dry and may even change the texture of your skin.
A simple and quick test to check if you are hydrated well is the ‘pinch test’. Just pinch your skin between your thumb and your forefinger and see how fast it bounces back.
If your skin snaps back immediately, you are well hydrated. In case it takes half a second more, you might be dehydrated and need to drink up.
Dehydration Complications And Organ Failures
In extreme cases, dehydration can lead to very serious complications such as kidney failure, heart attack, brain damage.
Severe loss of fluids from the body and reduced blood volume leads to shock. When organs like brain, kidneys do not receive enough oxygen needed, they begin to shut sown. If untreated, it may even result in death.
Though shock is rare and often occurs in extreme cases of fluids loss caused by prolonged vomiting, diarrhea, trauma, severe burns.
How To Stay Hydrated
Proper hydration is crucial for physical, mental, and overall wellbeing.
Preventing dehydration is easy begins with drinking lots of water.
Drink Lots Of Water
No matter what you think, start drinking lots of water. There are recommendations suggesting a minimum of 8 glasses of water. Ideally, you should also consider other factors such as your body weight, temperature activity levels and increase water intake accordingly.
Every time you are thirsty, avoid sweet beverages and grab a glass of water. Even if you are not thirsty, take a sip or two of water every 30 minutes or so.
Try and drink plenty of water before exercising which will help maintain endurance as well. In case you sweat a lot, you would need to increase your water intake.
If you keep a tab on the color of your urine, you would know when to grab a glass of water.
Eating fruits and vegetables will help you keep hydrated. They are packed with electrolytes such as magnesium, calcium potassium and sodium.
Fruits and vegetables also help combat electrolyte imbalance and help you prevent dehydration.
The Institute of Medicine recommendations suggests that most women should drink about 2.7 liters of water a day (or about 12 cups), and most men should drink about 3.7 liters a day (or about 15 cups).