Dehydration occurs when your body loses more water than the usual limit without replacing the same to the body. Severe dehydration can cause constipation, headaches and lethargy. Most occurrences of dehydration can be controlled by increasing fluid intake but in case of severe dehydration, one must immediately consult a medical practitioner.
Our body is roughly 75 percent water and without this water survival is tough. Our body water management system keeps our water levels at par and thirst indicated when we need to drink water or increase fluid intake. Dehydration can be faced by anyone, but the odds are higher for these people:
- Athletes: Due to excessive sweating, unknowingly the body might lose a lot of water resulting in dehydration.
- People at higher altitudes: At higher altitudes sweat evaporates quickly, you feel an urge to urinate more often and due to exertion a person is more likely to get dehydrated.
- Older people: Aged people often do not realize that they’re thirsty and do not take enough fluids due to medical conditions.
- Babies and toddlers: The babies can’t identify and tell you that they’re thirsty. They tend to lose quite a lot of water through high fever, diarrhea and vomiting.
- Ill people: People with a cold and sore throat do not like to drink water frequently.
- People with chronic disease: People with chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes can pee a lot which often causes dehydration.
Prominent signs and symptoms of dehydration
Dark yellow pee or no pee at all
When our body is devoid of water, our kidneys, which filter waste indicate and warns the body to retain water. Hence the urine is darker in color as not much water is flushed out with toxins and wastes.
Very dry skin
Skin might lose all its moisture and will look pale and flushed. If scratched, the mark will remain for a long time.
Dehydration might lead to sunken eyes as the eyes are not properly hydrated which may also result in vision problems, dry eye and eye strain.
The heart will pump rapidly to provide oxygen to the body organs.
Dried up lips/ less saliva production
Loss of water from the body and rapid breathing would cause dryness of lips and no saliva production.
Dehydration can make you feel palpitations as your heart is under great strain and the blood volume that pumps to the heart decrease. Hence the heart beats faster to cope up.
Feeling dizzy and fainting
Due to a drop in blood pressure, you can feel weak and dizzy.
Fatigue, confusion, Insomnia
The loss of as little as 2% of body water can cause mental dysfunctions. Melatonin production is hampered and you cannot fall asleep easily.
Nausea is linked to low blood pressure. This will make you throw up which worsens dehydration.
When you exercise vigorously or do some activities that require exertion, the body will leave enough fluids and will be heated up leading to heat illness.
When we become dehydrated, the intestines will not function properly and will not be able to add water to let the stool out of the body. (Also Read: Lifestyle Changes to Prevent Constipation? )
When the body is dehydrated, the mouth will not produce enough saliva which will lead to bacterial overgrowth. Bad breath is a sign of it.
Fever and chills
It’s better to see a medical professional in case of high fever as it can worsen dehydration by making the body sweat profusely. Applying cold water, wet clothes and moving to a cooler place are some immediate strategies one can resort to before seeing a doctor in urgency.
Sudden food cravings for sweets
Sweet will fulfill the water requirement of your body when your body faces difficulty in breaking down glycogen to release into the bloodstream. (Also Read: 15 Food you thought were healthy but actually aren’t! )
Dehydration can trigger a migraine headache. It’s better to drink water frequently to stay hydrated in case a mild headache is experienced. ( Also Read: How do I tell if I have a sinus or migraine? )
Causes of dehydration
Diarrhea and vomiting
Prolonged illness leading to diarrhea and vomiting might cause the body to lose more fluid than it can take. The result is dehydration because your body is devoid of enough fluids to function properly. A severe case of diarrhea can cause your kidneys to shut down. Cases of diarrhea should immediately be taken to a medical professional.
If our body sweats excessively, body temperature is lowered due to evaporative cooling. Sweating will make us lose more water more rapidly than the rate of replacing the water.
Peeing more due to diuretics
Diuretics or water pills make your body lose water. If too much of it is taken, it will make the body dehydrated and can lead to electrolytes. This can lead to side effects and dehydration. One should not take diuretics without a medical prescription.
Forgetting to drink water frequently or at regular intervals is a normal tendency of people nowadays due to the busy lives and hectic routines. So, one can set an alarm to remind yourself that water is precious to our body’s health and mind to avoid facing dehydration.
Extreme dehydration is a condition when more than 10 percent of the body-weight is lost through fluids. This can be fatal and lead to some life-threatening complications such as seizures, cardiac arrest, and hypovolemic shock. This can be life-threatening due to decreased blood volume.
Prevention tips to stay hydrated
- Check your urine: Darker urine is a warning sign that your body may face dehydration. If your urine is mostly clear with a light yellow tint that means you are hydrated.
- Self-skin test: You can try pinching your skin at the back of your palm and watch it getting back to its normal form. If it takes longer to be back in its position that means you are not properly hydrated.
- Keep your water bottle with you all the time: If your water bottle is kept handy and near you all the time, you will definitely take sips of it regularly. Keep a water bottle with you most of the time to avoid getting dehydrated.
- Replace snacks with fresh options: Snacks like chips etc. are devoid of water. You can go for yogurt, smoothies, peanut butter, vegetable salads to curb those cravings.
- Limit drinks containing caffeine like coffee, tea, alcohol: These are diuretics and causes the removal of fluids from your renal system which includes the kidneys, ureters and bladder.
These are some prominent and possible signs of suffering from dehydration that you must not ignore. Usually, we lose water from our body normally daily by sweating, defecating, breathing, urinating and through saliva and tears. We replace the same by intaking fluids, foods, fruits that contain an ample amount of water to keep us hydrated. Only when the water loss is more than the replacement that is an alarming situation. Therefore, your body deserves proper care, nutrition and water. So, keep yourself hydrated with these simple prevention tips and stay happy.