Have you ever been so busy that you neglected to drink at least a sip or two of water for a long period of time, and then suddenly realized that you needed a big sip of liquid? By supplying water to the body when it reports that you are thirsty, you often prevent yourself from being dehydrated.
What does Dehydration Mean?
It’s when you lose more water than you take in. That makes it harder for your body to do some basic jobs, like keep your temperature steady and clear out waste. You lose water in your sweat, tears, and every time you go to the bathroom. Even breathing takes a little out of you.
Is Thirst a Sign that You’re Dehydrated?
Yes, but no need to panic. By the time you get the urge to quench your thirst, you’re already a little dehydrated. As long as you pay attention and snag a drink when your body tells you to, it’s not a problem. For older adults, the lag might be a little longer. So it can help to make a habit of drinking water.
How your body reacts to too little water?
Your body works optimally when it is hydrated sufficiently, while negative biological changes occur when there is no fluid. When you are dehydrated, the fluid in the brain tissue decreases, leading to changes in brain volume.
Your blood also becomes denser and less circulating, which can lead to muscle spasms, and also cause your kidneys to retain water, so the frequency of urination will decrease.
“The tighter and more concentrated your blood becomes, the harder it is for the cardiovascular system to compensate for the increase in heart rate to maintain blood pressure”
When your dehydrated body is ‘strained’, for example, during exercise or under heat load conditions, the risk of exhaustion or collapse increases. This can cause you to lose consciousness, for example, at a moment of too sharp an upswing.
The lack of water also prevents the body from trying to regulate the temperature, which can cause hyperthermia (body temperature is much higher than normal).
Should I Drink 8 Cups a Day?
This old rule has zero science behind it. But it’s fine as a rough guide. The amount you need to drink depends on how active you are, where you live, and your overall health. If you’re not sure you’re drinking enough, check the colour of your pee. Clear or pale yellow means you’re all set. Darker means you need to drink up.
Signs that you’re Dehydrated
There are obvious signs, such as intense thirst and dry mouth, but if you experience any of these symptoms, you may also be dehydrated.
1. Bad breath
Need a chewing gum? Bad breath is a side effect of dehydration. If you do not drink enough water, your body cannot produce enough saliva to maintain freshness in the mouth, due to its antibacterial properties.
2. Dark urine
The colour of your urine is an indicator of dehydration. If it is dark yellow, it carries too much “waste”. Drinking water helps to filter and eliminate toxins from the kidneys. Healthy urine should be light yellow and translucent. If it is deep, dark yellow, you probably do not drink enough water. The colour of pale straw or light yellow colour usually indicates sufficient hydration.
3. Experiencing muscle cramps
Your body protects vital organs by drawing water from unwanted parts of the body, such as muscles. Without enough fluid, our muscles become incredibly sensitive and prone to cramps and spasms.
4.Fast Heartbeat? Are You Dehydrated?
Blood circulation significantly deteriorates when you drink a little water. Your heart begins to beat quickly to compensate for poor blood flow, which leads to an upset heart rate.
5. Cravings for Sugary treats
When you’re dehydrated, it’s difficult for your body to release glycogen (which uses water) as your main source of energy. Craving for sweets is especially common when you are dehydrated, because your liver, which releases accumulated glucose, requires water to do so. Instead of giving in to your sugar craving, drink a glass or two of water instead.
6. Dry skin
Without fluid, the body lacks moisture. You can check your skin by pinching your hand or cheek. If after that the skin returns to normal immediately, this is great. But if it stays wrinkled and stays in the shape in which you pinched it, you probably need to drink some water.
7. Effects on Mood
It might surprise you to know that even mild dehydration can make you feel tired and can affect your mood. This can make it hard to concentrate. To put it simply, your brain is sensitive to changes in your body’s fluids, so it may react to low hydration with mood changes. Think of this as a type of alarm system – if you’re having trouble focusing, it might be a sign you need to drink some more water.
Constipation is another consequence of not drinking enough water since your body actually pulls water out of your stool to compensate for what you do not accept. This, in turn, makes your stools drier, harder and harder to pass.
Tips for Staying Hydrated
If you just can’t remember to drink enough water, look for ways to build it into your day. Make water your go-to drink. Tip a glass at and between each meal. Or set a reminder on your phone to have a glass every hour. Some people find that carrying a water bottle does the trick. And if you’re hankering for a snack, have water instead. Sometimes, our bodies confuse thirst for hunger.