Dehydration is usually caused by excessive fluid loss due to vomiting, diarrhea or, on occasion, by inadequate fluid intake. You’ve probably been advised by your massage therapist to drink plenty of water after your treatment – and, there’s a good reason for that. Most people don’t drink enough water, even before treatment. Up to 60% of the human adult body is water, therefore, it is essential to maintain proper hydration to support good health, along with our bodies’ ability to detoxify.
Water helps support the kidneys, liver, and pancreas as they process toxins. A well-hydrated body transports oxygen and nutrients throughout all cells, thereby enhancing overall good health. What are the causes and symptoms of dehydration and how to rehydrate after being dehydrated? Here’s what you should know about dehydration.
Definition: The term dehydration refers to the state in which our body loses more fluids than those it takes in. The body loses fluids daily through urine, feces, sweat, breathing; the sensation of thirst signals precisely the drop in the liquids present in the body and reminds us to reintegrate them.
First Sign of Dehydration: One of the earliest symptoms of dehydration would be thirst, and the kidneys regulating the amount of water output. This will be obvious if the urine is strong with a deeper yellow coloring.
How Does It Affect the Body?
The lack of fluids can cause feelings of dizziness as well as hinder the proper function of body. Although it is especially dangerous in young children and older adults, dehydration can affect anyone. A study conducted, has investigated how the lack of fluids in the body affects the functioning of the brain, effects on the energy levels and effects on Gastrointestinal Function. Mild dehydration also compromises the motor and cognitive control abilities and negatively affects mood.
Symptoms of Dehydration
These are some of the common dehydration symptoms. Still, symptoms may vary from one person to the other person because everybody has a complicated network of different systems. The following are the symptoms of moderate or mild dehydration.
- Sticky or dry mouth
- Tiredness or sleepiness
- Children become less active than usual
- Dry skin
- No or few tears when someone cries
- Decrease in urination
- Lightheadedness or dizziness
Now following are the symptoms of severe dehydration.
- No sweating
- Extreme thirst
- Dry mucous membranes, skin, and mouth
- In children and infant severe sleepiness or fussiness
- In adults confusion and irritability
- Sunken eyes
- Sunken fontanels in infants (this is the soft spot on the top of the baby’s head)
- Dry and shriveled skin, lack of elasticity, when pinched in it does not bounce back
- Rapid breathing
- Reduced blood pressure
- Rapid heartbeat
- No tears when crying
- Unconsciousness and delirium also occur in most severe cases
The average person loses approximately 2.5 percent of total body water per day through normal process like sweating, breathing, and removal of waste material. Some illnesses like diabetes, fever, vomiting, and diarrhea lead to dehydration. Sometimes lifestyle factors also cause dehydration, like taking much alcohol, warm environment, exercise, and taking less water can cause dehydration. Healthy adults usually treat their moderate and mild dehydration by taking more fluids that hydrate the body.
How to Test for Dehydration
You can try a skin test, or check your urine to test for dehydration.
Try this skin test: Pinch your skin using two fingers on the back on your hand and let it go. Your skin should return to its normal position in two seconds. But, if it springs back more slowly, you might be dehydrated.
Check your urine: Your urine should be clear and light; lemonade in color when you are well hydrated. On the other hand, orange and dark yellow could be a sign of dehydration. It’s recommended that you start drinking more water once you see those warning colors.
Why Do I feel Dehydrated All the Time?
- When you are under stress, the adrenal glands that produce stress hormones become exhausted. It can cause low electrolyte levels and dehydration.
- If you are not consuming fruits and vegetables daily, you are not getting the water content they provide to help support a hydrated body.
- Some medications have adverse side effects like dehydration.
- Taking specific types of dietary supplements can send you to the lavatory more often, causing a loss of fluids from your body.
- Eliminating carbs from your diet could lead to dehydration.
- Other medical conditions could be possible, a trip to your doctor can confirm the underlying cause.
Benefits of Being Hydrated
There are incredible benefits of being hydrated! It is recommended by The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine that women should consume approximately 2.7 liters of water, and men, approximately 3.7 liters of water. In addition, being hydrated provides the following:
1. It gives energy
One of the causes of tiredness during the day is dehydration. In the case of “mild” dehydration, the feeling of tiredness and headache increases, concentration decreases. When we drink water, this helps the blood carry oxygen to the brain, and the level increases, especially when we are well hydrated.
2. Adjusts the temperature of your body
Water is essential to regulate the body’s temperature, especially when you sweat a lot. As the sweat evaporates, the body cools down. When we lose too much water through sweating, the risk of heat exhaustion increases, so it is necessary to drink water to maintain the right hydration level and have better performance during physical activity.
3. Improve Digestion
The digestive system needs a certain amount of water for proper digestion. When a person drinks water regularly, it can reduce problems such as stomach acid and intestinal disorders. Water, together with fiber, is also ideal for fighting constipation, which very often can be the result of dehydration.
4. It improves cardiovascular health
A study conducted by the Adventist Health Study revealed that women who drink more than five glasses of water per day could help reduce their chances of heart disease by around 41%, compared to women who drink only 1-2 glasses of water in a day.
Similarly, men can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease by 54% if they drink more than five glasses of water a day. People at risk of developing heart disease must drink water as a preventative measure.
5. It is good for brain health
The brain depends on water to function efficiently, so drinking water helps you think better. If you feel you have brain-fog, or can’t seem to concentrate properly, ensure you are maintaining proper hydration by drinking water throughout the day.
6. Water keeps your skin healthy and radiant
Your skin looks healthier, brighter, and younger by drinking enough water. Water plays a very important role in terms of skin hydration and also improves elasticity. Drinking water also promotes detoxification and purification of the blood that is reflected in a clean, bright face with less acne.
How to Rehydrate After Being Dehydrated
For a mild case of dehydration, it should be enough just to drink plenty of fluids. Water is your first choice, and there are plenty of special drinks on the market that will replace and balance your electrolytes, as well as fluid loss. Water, in combination with fruit juice, fresh fruit, salty soups, or broths will greatly help hydrate the body.
For severe dehydration, you may need to seek medical attention and see a doctor to be treated with intravenous (IV) fluids. A sterile saline solution that delivers nutrients and electrolytes into your bloodstream and quickly rehydrates your body.
If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, seek medical attention immediately:
- Are disoriented or confused
- Have experienced a seizure
- Haven’t urinated in 8 hours
- Feel dizzy when you stand
- Have a weak or rapid pulse
- Can’t intake fluids because of nausea or vomiting
Of course, prevention is key! Staying properly hydrated will not only help you avoid negative side effects but will help you feel better overall. You should consider the following to be part of your daily routine:
- Drink 6 to 8 glasses of water per day. It is advisable to drink fluids throughout the day. It does not have to be just water; you can also consume juices, soups, and broths.
- Consume water-rich foods such as watermelon, oranges, or cucumber.
- Avoid or reduce drinks such as coffee or tea. These types of drinks have a diuretic effect and are recommended to be taken in moderation.
- Eat more fiber. Fiber can be found in foods such as legumes, natural cereals, vegetables, and fruits.
What Causes Dehydration?
Dehydration can occur in any age group if you don’t drink enough water. An average loss of water is about 2-3 liters per day via sweat, urine, and breath. But that average can increase or decrease depending on body weight and physical activities done throughout the day. If a person is experiencing physical excursion or exercises too hard, the loss of water may be more than 2-3 liters. The best way to avoid dehydration is to properly hydrate your body by drinking at least 8 glasses of water per day. This will almost always fulfill the body’s recommended daily requirement.
The following is a list of possible causes of dehydration:
Alcohol: Even consuming small amounts of alcohol can cause dehydration. Alcohol suppresses your body’s anti-diuretic hormone that sends fluids back into your body, therefore causing water to be flushed out more quickly than normal. For this reason, it is advised that if you consume alcohol, you match one glass of water for each alcoholic drink consumed. This will help restore the fluids lost through alcohol alone.
Physical Exercise: Although people know that drinking water before, during, or after workouts is important, we often underestimate the amount of water we need to stay hydrated. Health experts recommend that people weigh themselves before and after a workout to see how much water they have lost so that they can adjust their water intake.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome: The most common symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome are chronic nausea and diarrhea, and therefore causes a loss of fluids. People suffering from this syndrome must remember to replenish water and mineral salts to stay perfectly hydrated.
Weather Conditions: Dehydration can occur in extreme weather conditions. When it is too hot outside, excessive perspiration can reduce the level of water in the body, decreasing below the recommended level. This may result in several health issues such as fatigue, dizziness, fever, vomiting, etc., and be more prevalent in children or older adults.
Aging Process: As we age, we tend to drink less liquid. Older adults tend to drink water or liquids when they feel thirsty. And, as we have learned, when you feel thirsty, your body is already dehydrated. As a result, they may also be prone to continual dehydration and experience symptoms associated with a lack of proper hydration.
Fever: Another common cause of dehydration is a fever. When you experience a fever, you often suffer from a loss of fluid from sweating. Chances are that you don’t want to eat or drink anything when a fever is present. Unfortunately, this can quickly lead to your body being dehydrated. When you are sick, and have a fever, it’s important that you help your body fight infection by ensuring you maintain proper liquids and stay hydrated.
Medication: In some instances, certain side-effects of some medication may cause increased frequency of urination, therefore leading to dehydration. It is important to note that with any medication, one should consume more water to help the body distribute the medicine to the area needed. If you are taking a medication that is considered a diuretic, you need to replace the fluids lost by increasing your water intake. This not only helps you combat the symptoms of dehydration, but helps your medicine work! Make sure you talk with your doctor and pharmacist about the importance of proper hydration with any medicine prescribed.
Can You Be Dehydrated in Cold Weather?
Exposure to cold reduces the sensation of thirst up to 40%, meaning that we may not even be aware that we are thirsty, which puts us at a higher risk of dehydration. Just as being overheated, cold weather can play havoc on our systems, as well. During exposure to cold temperatures, it’s important that you regulate your body’s fluid levels by consuming water on a regular basis – even if you’re not thirsty. This will ensure that your levels are adequately maintained, and your system can function optimally.
Water is an essential component in our life. Without it, we cannot survive. Every cell, organ, and tissue in our body needs water to regulate temperature and maintain daily function. Studies have shown that the human body can go without food for about 3 weeks, but cannot go without water for more than 3 or 4 days. If you are not a water drinker – then start! Fill up a large water bottle each morning and force yourself to consume as much as you can throughout the day. As you progress, increase your water intake by re-filling your water bottle a second time. For those folks who never drink water until they are thirsty, if you push yourself to do it, you are going to see considerable benefits within 1 week. So, raise a glass of H20, and know that you are doing great things to help your body! Cheers!
All information, content, and material of this website is for informational purposes only and are not intended to serve as a substitute for the consultation, diagnosis, and/or medical treatment of a qualified physician or healthcare provider. Please seek medical attention should you experience any conditions or symptoms listed in this article.