Be safe and stay hydrated!
Dehydration is a serious condition that can occur in everyone. Caused by a significant lack of fluid intake, dehydration of any degree can have substantial effects on your health.
So, as you pack your days full of adventures, responsibilities, and whatever else life throws at you, make sure to pack that water bottle too! Diligence when it comes to staying hydrated is crucial as it keeps you feeling good and keeps you on track.
In this post, we will take a deep dive into the condition of dehydration: what causes it, the effects of it, treatment, prevention, and more.
Causes of Dehydration
Dehydration is a result of a lack of fluid intake –when our body loses more fluid than we take it.
The human body is roughly made up of 60% water. Our bodies use water in all our organs, cells, and tissues. It helps us regulate body temperature and other critical bodily functions like digestion. With our bodies so dependent on fluids, drinking water is an essential part of taking care of ourselves.
Anyone who doesn’t drink enough water can become dehydrated – no matter your age, sex, weight, etc. However, some factors can increase your chances of becoming dehydrated like:
• Physical activity
• Illnesses or antibiotics
Also, it is especially dangerous for young children and older adults to be dehydrated.
The effects of dehydration can be both long term and short term. It is very essential to your mind and body to have the proper amount of fluids. Your body uses water to perform a myriad of significant bodily functions such as pumping oxygen, carrying nutrients, flushing out toxins, and more.
Carrying out important daily tasks, reasoning, decision-making, motor skills, and more all suffer when dehydrated as well. When water is limited, your ability to perform these necessary operations is critically impaired, resulting in hazardous symptoms.
The most serious results of untreated dehydration are:
- Urinary problems
- Kidney problems
- Heat exhaustion
- Intense, uncontrolled, and involuntary spasms
- Loss of consciousness
- Hypovolemic shock
Symptoms of Dehydration
There are a variety of symptoms that can manifest due to dehydration. Usually, these symptoms are easy to manage and eliminate; however, some require medical attention.
Here are ten common symptoms:
1. Feeling Thirsty
A simple tell of a lack of water is thirst! The level of thirst you feel directly relates to how dehydrated you are — the more extreme, the more dehydrated.
2. Dark Colored Urine
Another very common symptom of dehydration is dark-colored urine. If your urine is dark yellow, brown, or maroon, you very well may be dehydrated. The general rule of thumb is the darker the urine, the more dehydrated you are.
If your urine is dark for a substantial period of time, it is important to see a doctor as soon as possible.
When you become dehydrated, you often have headaches of differing severity. This is due to the lack of water in your brain, causing your brain to shrivel up and pull away from its usual location in the skull. This pull, along with the lack of oxygen dehydration, causes pain receptors to fire off, and thus a headache occurs.
4. Dry Mouth
When you don’t drink enough water, your body is unable to produce what it needs to for normal bodily functions. In the case of dry mouth, dehydration stops the production of saliva to conserve as much water as possible.
Saliva is important not only because it keeps your mouth moist which helps you chew and properly swallow your food, but also because it contains substances that help the body digest your food and keep your teeth strong.
5. Bad Breath
Also due to a lack of saliva, dehydration causes bad breath. Saliva also fights bacteria in your mouth. When you are dehydrated, your body stops producing saliva, so your body stops fighting the bacteria, causing it to grow. Thus, the lack of water causes bad breath due to bacteria.
Dehydration also causes fatigue — or extreme tiredness. When you don’t have enough fluids in the body, your body goes through a drop in blood volume. This lack of fluids prompts the heart to work harder to perform its essential functions. As your heart exerts more energy to send oxygen and pump nutrients through your bloodstream, your body and muscles become more tired as a result.
7. Intense Dizziness
Dizziness is a very common symptom linked to dehydration. Your blood pressure can drop due to the lack of water in your system. Without the proper amount of fluids, your body can struggle to get enough blood, causing dizziness and lightheadedness.
As mentioned above, when you do not drink enough water, your blood pressure can severely drop causing you to feel dizzy.
In very extreme cases, your heart may struggle to the point of fainting. Usually, you will notice a few signs before passing out (feeling weak, dizzy, rapid heartbeat, confusion), however, these warnings often go unchecked.
If you faint due to dehydration, it is strongly suggested that you consult a doctor immediately.
It is clear the effects of dehydration are felt all around your body, including in your intestines. Moderate to severe lack of water prevents your intestines from adding the necessary fluids for stool passage.
10. Less of a Need to Urine
When your body has a depleted source of water, it will do whatever it can to retain the water currently in your body. Often, this leads to a decrease in the need to urinate.
Dehydration Self Treatment
Usually, you can take action to treat your mild dehydration without medical assistance.
Here is a list of ways to recover from depleted water intake.
Drink Clean Water
The absolute best way to treat dehydration is to drink clean water. Have your water filters ready as rehydration should be your top priority. Make sure to properly pace yourself as chugging a large amount of water may stun your body and may slightly hinder your recovery.
If plain water is not your cup of tea, a tasty hack is to add some slices of fruit and infuse the water.
Drink Fresh Fruit Juice
Although water is the best option for rehydration, fruit juice works wonders as well. Fruit juice has great nutrients that help your body recover.
Eat Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are filled with nutrients that are so helpful for recovery. Plus, these tasty treats are usually highly water-based and perfect for treating dehydration at home.
Take Oral Rehydration Salts
If you believe you need an extra push, over the oral rehydration salts may be a great option for you. Oral Rehydration Salts give your body a boost of helpful nutrients (electrolytes, glucose, and more) that help balance and increase your hydration. These can be made at home with typical ingredients found in the kitchen: salt, water, and glucose or sugar! They are also available over the counter.
When to See a Doctor
Mild dehydration is a quick fix, but moderate sometimes requires medical intervention, and severe dehydration may involve an overnight hospital visit. It is important to recognize when to see a doctor. Here are some serious signs that you should seek help immediately:
- Any symptom for a substantial amount of time
- The appearance of Sunken Eyes
- Low Blood Pressure
- Rapid Heartbeat
- Rapid Breathing
- Delirium (Serious confusion/ trouble thinking)
Dehydration Prevention: Drinking Water!
Dehydration is usually very preventable, but we often don’t realize just how easy it is to forget to drink water. Making sure you have a clean and filtered source of water at all times is important. Being prepared is essential.
Also, knowing how much fluid you need daily will be a great help. It’s around 11.5 cups for adult women and 15.5 cups for adult men.
It is important to recognize activities and outside factors that will require more fluid intake, such as:
• When you’re sick: Having an illness increases your chance of dehydration, as your body is working extra hard to fight off the harmful germs in your body. Drinking more water when you are sick is important in fueling your recovering body and staying healthy.
• When you’re exercising: Exercise requires you to exert more effort than usual, often resulting in sweating. This increase in energy use plus sweating out your fluids requires drinking more water more often to replenish what was lost.
• When it is hot outside: When the outside temperature is hot, you often find yourself excerpting more energy as well as sweating. As mentioned above, conditions require you to drink more water more often to replenish what was lost.
• When it is cold outside: In cold weather, sweat is evaporated more quickly. Therefore, we are losing more fluid than we think. We often don’t feel thirst as much in the cold, leading us to drink less water, and thus, becoming dehydrated.
• After vomiting or diarrhea: Your body loses a lot of fluids after vomiting and diarrhea. It is crucial to drink water after these instances to replenish the fluid that was lost.
The Bottom Line: Drink More Water!
Dehydration is a serious condition that has significant effects on your body. Drinking clean water and staying on top of your intake is essential to your health. Being aware of the symptoms and effects of dehydration is important.
Hopefully, this deep dive into dehydration has equipped you with the proper knowledge to avoid this harmful condition.
Be sure to stay hydrated!
A little about me, my name is Rickie “Water Guy” Anderson, I personally research my guides and if you have corrections, inquiries, suggestions etc.. please feel free to send me an E-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow me on twitter at twitter.com/hlthywaterguide and facebook at facebook.com/healthywaterguide.