In addition to thirst, many people ignore the common signs of dehydration, believing that the symptoms they feel will eventually resolve.
For years, many dietitians, nutritionists, physicians, and even exercise physiologists have preached the importance of consuming a minimum of eight 250cm3 glasses of water per day. And this is for several reasons.
First of all, the water contains zero calories. That fact alone makes it an ideal drink for those trying to lose a few pounds or want to maintain a healthy weight.
Second, drinking plenty of water helps flush out toxins that would otherwise negatively affect the immune system. And, in turn, they could lead to a myriad of health problems. In fact, dietitians, nutritionists, physicians, and exercise physiologists extol the benefits of drinking water on a daily basis, bottled or otherwise.
WHY YOU SHOULD DRINK WATER, THIRSTY OR NOT
It's natural to reach for a bottle or glass of water when you're thirsty; however, there is credible data showing that drinking cool, refreshing water, even when you are not thirsty, can have a positive impact on the body.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), water helps the body maintain an optimal temperature, lubricates and cushions the joints, and protects the spinal cord and other sensitive tissues. Of course, the benefits don't end there. Drinking lots of water increases urination and stimulates regular bowel movements. Both processes work to remove harmful toxins from the body while helping to keep you hydrated.
WHAT YOU MAY NOT KNOW ABOUT DEHYDRATION
Arguably one of the worst things you can do to your body is allow it to become dehydrated. And this is not based on hyperbole, as there is no shortage of studies proving that dehydration can have a profound impact on overall health and quality of life. Before we delve into the toll dehydration has on the body, let's take a moment to explore what it means to be dehydrated.
In short, dehydration refers to a state in which the body loses more fluids than it takes in. When this happens, it disrupts the delicate balance of sodium and other electrolytes in the body. Considering that more than two-thirds of the human body is made up of water, even a slight disruption when it comes to the delicate balance of these minerals can adversely affect its function.
WHAT CAUSES THE BODY TO DEHYDRATE?
Although losing fluids and not replacing them is a quick way to become dehydrated, you should know that several things can contribute to fluid loss. And all can leave the body slightly, moderately or severely dehydrated. Generally speaking, fluid loss is a by-product of sweating, urinating, defecating, and spitting.
It's also worth noting that strenuous exercise or playing sports can cause even more sweating, spitting, and urination. And in some cases, diarrhea, which can increase the likelihood of dehydration. Although rarely discussed, crying can also lead to fluid loss and dehydration.
After all, these activities can make you sweat more than someone leading a sedentary lifestyle. To put this in context, the average sweat rate among people who regularly exercise or play sports is about 3-4 liters per hour or about 10 liters for a full day.
Still, those who are physically active will dehydrate at a faster rate than those who are not. However, both groups should make it a point to replenish their body with as much water as possible. While we're on the topic, it's worth noting that the following can also lead to dehydration:
In addition to making you miserable, the flu, for example, can make you more likely to become dehydrated. Studies show that the flu triggers an increased metabolic rate. This disease not only creates a mineral imbalance in the body, but it also makes it extremely difficult to stay hydrated.
According to an article published by diabetes.co.uk, the world's largest diabetes community, diabetes and dehydration tend to go hand in hand. People with diabetes generally have a hard time keeping their blood glucose levels under control. And the higher their blood glucose levels, the more likely they are to become dehydrated.
12 SIGNS OF DEHYDRATION THAT SHOULD NOT BE IGNORED
In addition to thirst, many people ignore the common signs of dehydration, believing that the symptoms they feel will eventually resolve themselves. As a result, many of these same individuals become so severely dehydrated that they must be hospitalized. Common signs of dehydration, which may or may not be accompanied by thirst, include the following:
MILD TO MODERATE SIGNS OF DEHYDRATION
- Urinate less frequently
- A decrease in saliva production.
- Muscle cramps
- Always cold or dry skin.
SEVERE SIGNS OF DEHYDRATION
- Dark urine
- Rapid heartbeat
- Fast breathing
- Extreme fatigue
- Hollow eyes
This list does not cover all the symptoms associated with dehydration; however, those listed are among the most commonly ignored signs of dehydration.
WHO IS AT A GREATEST RISK OF DEHYDRATING?
While anyone can become dehydrated, the risk is much higher among older adults. Some of the factors that make older adults more susceptible to dehydration include the following:
INABILITY TO RETAIN LIQUID
One of the downsides of getting older is that your body can no longer maintain the same fluid level compared to when we were young. In essence, this means that older adults will have to drink almost twice as much water as someone younger to stay hydrated.
A REDUCED THIRST RESPONSE
The thirst response is a condition that occurs when there is an increase in sodium and other minerals in the body, which occurs when fluid levels drop too low. As we age, our thirst response begins to wane. As a result, many older adults become dehydrated without even realizing it.
POOR KIDNEY FUNCTION
Another downside to getting older is that we are more likely to develop kidney disease, which can also increase the risk of dehydration. According to a study published by Johns Hopkins University, more than 50 percent of people age 75 and older have some form of kidney disease. As a result, they tend to lose more fluid than the body needs when urinating compared to someone much younger. For this reason, the National Kidney Foundation encourages all people over the age of 60 to have regular kidney exams.
Sadly, many older adults have a hard time moving around even when they're just trying to get to the kitchen to drink water and stay hydrated.
COMPLICATIONS ARISING FROM DEHYDRATION, WHETHER YOUNG OR OLD
Now that we've gotten over the signs of dehydration, symptoms, and who's most at risk, let's turn our attention to the complications associated with prolonged dehydration:
For those who enjoy exercising or playing sports, staying hydrated is essential. After all, dehydration from participating in these activities has been linked to heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and worse, heatstroke.
LOW BLOOD SHOCK
This particular complication caused by prolonged constipation can be life-threatening as it can cause a severe drop in blood pressure and also reduces the flow of oxygen throughout the body.
Prolonged dehydration also increases the risk of seizures due to a decrease in sodium and other electrolytes, according to a study published by the National Institutes of Health. For reference, electrolytes are instrumental in the transmission of electrical signals between cells. When people become dehydrated, these signals are disrupted, often to the point where involuntary muscle contractions occur, also known as seizures. In extreme cases, these same seizures can also lead to serious head injuries.
URINARY TRACT INFECTIONS
Although urinary tract infections, also known as urinary tract infections, and dehydration seem to have nothing to do with each other, the two are highly interconnected. Studies show that continuous and prolonged episodes of dehydration can lead to an increased risk of developing urinary tract infections. And this is because the body does not have enough fluids to properly eliminate the bacteria that sometimes reach the urinary tract.
FINAL REFLECTIONS ON THE SIGNS OF DEHYDRATION
In summary, one of the best ways to improve your overall health and keep dehydration at bay is to drink a minimum of eight 250cm3 glasses of water per day. Of course, it's a good idea to increase your intake if you exercise regularly, play sports, or are in your golden years. Plus, the water contains zero sugars, salt, and calories. Each of these reasons makes it a great alternative to juice, soda, or sports drinks.