Dehydration is a common condition that results from the body losing more fluids than it takes in. Typically, dehydration occurs when a person does not drink enough water. Our bodies lose water in a variety of ways including sweating, going to the bathroom, and even breathing! We need to consume enough water to keep our bodies balanced and working to their fullest capacity. If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, get yourself some water!
1. Your urine is a deep yellow.
The longer urine stays in your body, the deeper in color it will be. Your urine should be only slightly yellow or straw-colored. If your urine is darker yellow or orange, you should drink more water. Staying hydrated helps flush toxins out your body and makes your urine an appropriate color.
2. You are having difficulty concentrating or thinking clearly.
Our brains require sufficient water to function properly. If you are dehydrated, your brain will not be working at its optimal level. This presents itself in a number of ways. If your brain is dehydrated, you may notice a change in your cognitive function or in your mood. If you suddenly find yourself confused or unfocused, have a glass of water and see if you feel better.
3. You have halitosis (bad breath) or a dry mouth.
When you are hydrated, your mouth produces enough saliva to keep it from feeling dry. Since saliva has antibacterial properties, saliva keeps the level of bacteria in your mouth in check. When you are dehydrated, your mouth will not produce adequate saliva. When your mouth is dry, microbes can form on the tongue which is a leading cause of bad breath. If you constantly feel like your mouth is dry or has a bad taste in it, try drinking more water to rebalance your mouth’s bacteria.
4. You are constipated or have other digestive issues.
If you are experiencing constipation or having hard stools, you may be dehydrated. As the food you eat passes through your digestive system from your stomach to your colon, your body absorbs nutrients and liquids. If you are dehydrated, your body will be trying to absorb even more fluid from what you’ve eaten. This leads to very uncomfortable experiences in the bathroom. You can keep your stool softer by drinking plenty of water.
5. You have sudden food cravings.
The body often mistakes thirst for hunger. When you are dehydrated, your body cannot properly absorb nutrients from the food you eat. Your liver also needs water to release energy to your body, triggering your body to crave more food. If you are dehydrated, your body may crave any kind of food, but it is likely you will want something sweet. This is because your body needs help producing glycogen. Instead of grabbing something sugary, have a big glass of water. Fill up with fruits and vegetables which contain lots of water. Foods like cantaloupe, strawberries, watermelon, cucumber, celery, lettuce, and tomatoes are more than 90 percent water.
6. You suffer from fatigue or lethargy.
Many people who feel fatigued may actually be dehydrated. Even professional athletes can experience this. They often feel fatigued because they are not drinking enough water, not just because their muscles are overworked. Water helps your body regulate blood sugar and oxygen levels in the body, helping you feel energized. If your body doesn’t have enough water, you will likely feel tired.
7. You feel your heart racing.
Some symptoms of dehydration can be very scary. Some people who are dehydrated experience heart palpitations. Being dehydrated throws off your body’s electrolytes and can lower blood pressure. This puts extra strain on various parts of your body including your heart. If you can feel your heart racing or have an abnormal heart rate, it may be a sign that you need water ASAP.
8. You have scaly, dry skin or lips.
Water helps your skin look healthy. Well-hydrated skin appears doughy and bounces back when you pinch your skin. You may think of dehydrated skin as sweaty, but once you go through all the stages of dehydration, your skin will get very dry. Your blood volume drops, and your skin loses its elasticity. If you experience this, you should go get yourself a glass of water. If you have chronic dry, scaly skin, you should try drinking more water on a regular basis.
9. You have joint or muscle pain.
As you’ve hopefully figured out by now, our bodies need water to perform optimally. If you are dehydrated, your joints and muscles will not have enough fluid to work properly. When your joints and muscles aren’t well lubricated, you’ll likely be in pain. You may especially notice this if you work out regularly. Take a break, rehydrate, and see if your joints and muscles feel any better.
10. You have headaches or dizziness.
Being dehydrated can wreak havoc on your body. When you don’t drink enough water, you may get a headache. This occurs because of the brain’s anatomy. The brain is protected by a fluid sac that needs plenty of water to keep a comfortable barrier between your brain and your skull. When the fluid sac gets low due to dehydration, you can get a massive headache. Dizziness can occur because your body is not able to process nutrients without water. If you have constant headaches or dizziness, see if drinking some water doesn’t help you feel better.
Think you might have experienced one of these symptoms but aren’t sure if you’re dehydrated? Read on to learn about a few simple dehydration tests.
If you think you might have experienced one of the symptoms we mentioned, but aren’t sure if you’re dehydrated, read on. You can check for dehydration with one of these tests. The simplest test is to check if you are thirsty. If you’re feeling thirsty, you are already dehydrated. Drinking water regularly (even when you don’t feel thirsty), will keep you hydrated.
Skin elasticity is a sign of good hydration, and you can test for it very simply. Grab a bit of your skin on the back of your hand between two fingers. Gently pinch the skin up about half an inch, then let it go. If your skin moves back into position within a few seconds, you are hydrated. If it takes longer to move back, you could be dehydrated.
We mentioned that the color of your urine can also be a sign of dehydration. Checking your urine is a third very simple dehydration test. A well-hydrated body will produce urine that is very light yellow or mostly clear. If you see full-out yellow, chardonnay, or orange, you are likely dehydrated. When you see yellow, your body is about 3 percent dehydrated. Chardonnay (yellow-orange) indicates your body is around 5 percent dehydrated. If you see orange, that is a sign your body has reached dangerous levels of dehydration, more than 5 percent dehydrated.
How much water should you be drinking?
Your total water intake is a combination of the water you drink, the water you take in from the foods you eat, and water you get from other beverages you consume. Guidelines from the Institute of Medicine suggest that women get 12 cups of water a day and men get 15 cups a day.
How can you stay hydrated?
Keep a water bottle with you throughout the day. Many people assume you have to work out to become dehydrated, but you can become dehydrated just by sitting at a desk all day if you don’t drink enough water. Keeping a water bottle next to you will encourage you to keep drinking without having to think about it.
Some people say they just don’t like the taste of water. If you fall into this category, make your water more appealing by adding a tiny bit of fruit juice or frozen fruit to give it some natural flavor. You can experiment by infusing your water with different combinations of fruit and make each cup a treat.
You can also drink cups of unsweetened tea in lieu of water. If you really don’t like drinking plain water, try some iced tea during the day and warm cups of peppermint or chamomile tea in the evening. Tea still counts towards your total fluid intake!
You can also help your body stay hydrated by paying attention to what you eat.
You can help hydrate your body by choosing snacks with higher water content. Trade in dry, salty snacks like chips, pretzels, and crackers. Choose fruit and yogurt, a tasty smoothie, or veggies and hummus instead. Filling up on healthier snacks will help your body get the fluid it needs to stay hydrated!
Eat more fruits and vegetables at meal time. Most Americans fill up their plates with protein and carbs. To help your body stay healthier, make up your meals with about 50 percent vegetables and fruit. Not only will you get more water, you’ll also give your body more fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
Don’t skip water at mealtimes. Drinking small amounts of water while you’re eating a meal will force you to eat slower. You’ll stay hydrated, and you will also give your brain a chance to catch up to your stomach to prevent overeating.
How can you prevent loss of fluids?
Reducing the amount of water your body loses will decrease the amount of water you need to take in to stay hydrated. Continue on for more tips!
Follow these tips to help prevent dehydration.
Bring water with you to outdoor activities and anytime you will be sweating. Getting hot and sweaty will increase the amount of water your body needs. Athletes and people who work outside should always keep water with them.
Limit your activity when it is especially hot outside. If the forecast calls for a high heat index, stay inside as much as possible. If you have outdoor activities planned, try to reschedule them for cooler parts of the day.
Take special care of infants and the elderly. The very young and very old are more sensitive to effects of dehydration and should be protected from hot temperatures.
If you are worried about dehydration, limit your alcohol intake. Alcohol dehydrates the body and will make your body lose water even faster when it’s warm outside.
Choose your outfit carefully when spending time outside on a hot day. Wearing light-colored and loose-fitting clothes will help keep your body cooler and reduce the amount of water you lose. Hand-held fans and mini water misters can also help cool you down in hot temperatures.
If you are spending time in hot weather, it helps to take breaks in a cooler place. Step out of the sun into a nice shady place or move into an air-conditioned space. Reducing the risk of overheating will help limit the amount of water your body loses.