Dehydration, simply put, is a loss of water from body cells. It can occur when the body loses more water than it takes in.
Around sixty percent of the human body is made up of water. Around two-thirds of this water is contained within our cells; these are the basic life-giving units of the human body. The rest of it is found in the spaces between cells, around the organs and our bloodstream. Water is essential to our survival. It helps in facilitating all important functions of the body, lubricates the joints, and also flushes out the waste from our body.
Water is one of the most important fluids we consume. Depletion in the optimum level of water required by the body can affect all our bodily functions. Our bodies have an inbuilt mechanism to estimate the requirement of water; whenever there is a significant depletion of fluids, it sends out signals to replenish the levels. Our system adjusts and makes up for a marginal loss of fluids by shifting water among the organs. However, a severe deficiency of fluids cannot be sustained for prolonged periods; and the body reacts by giving stress symptoms of dehydration. Ironically, many people do not take the required amounts of water necessary for supporting healthy bodily functions.
Dehydration is one of the world’s most common, preventable medical conditions. Interestingly, it affects millions of people in the US and many others across the world. It is unfortunate that many people are uninformed about the harsh side effects of dehydration. The following are some things that you should definitely know about dehydration.
1. Thirst pains are factual
Hunger pains are a fact; in the same manner, we can also experience thirst. The signals of hunger and pain are interpreted by the same part of the brain. Therefore, it is common to confuse the two. Your body may be requiring water when you interpret it as a hunger pang. The signals are the same in both the instances; you may feel tired or irritated. The brain concludes that the body requires energy and you may end up eating when you actually require water. A simple way to check whether your body requires food or water is to check it out; the body usually require food after a gap of three to four hours, so, if are feeling hungry before that time you should drink a glass of water and wait for fifteen minutes. If you are still feeling hungry, go ahead and eat. This method is a sure shot way to avoid dehydration.
We do not have to rely on the dry mouth as a sign of thirst. Headaches, chronic joint pain, and gastric ulcers are all signs of dehydration. Water transports acidic waste from the cells of various body organs. When water level has depleted, the body's nerves interpret these wastes as pain.
2. Fatigue is a sign of dehydration
Water is essential to maintain all bodily functions. Any drop in these levels disturbs the delicate internal balance. As the level of water in the body depletes, the volume of blood in the body goes down. The heart has to work harder to supply oxygen and other important nutrients to the skin and other organs. If the fluid level goes down further, the brain may redirect blood from the skin and peripheral muscles to the essential organs. The condition can lead to symptoms of chronic fatigue, light-headedness and muscle cramps.
Loughborough University once conducted a study on dehydration. It stated that we lose 25-30% of energy when water levels in the body drop by a mere 5%. Additionally, slower metabolism and brain fog were found to be caused by a 3 percent drop. The Human Performance Laboratory at the University of Connecticut stated that headaches, reduced cognitive function, and fatigue are often a result of decreased water levels, as much as 1.5 percent.
3. A headache and brain fog
Prolonged dehydration can lead to decreased brain activity that is expressed as a feeling of dizziness and lack of decision-making power.
4. Dehydration often causes asthma and allergies
When your body lacks water; histamines start a water-rationing exercise. This amplifies the rate of allergic reactions and reduces immunity. Asthma patients release histamine which causes bronchial constriction and inflammation.
5. City water affects digestion
To disinfect water and remove pathogens, city water is often chlorinated. Chlorine is a known irritant; you may need to install a shower filter if you suffer from dry skin or eczema. It also destroys stomach acid because it is a pro-oxidant.
We usually experience slow digestion and bloating because chlorinated water reduces the production of enzymes. This may cause problems in digestion.
How much water we really need
Water requirements in the body vary from one person to another. Factors like activity level, body size, diet, climate, and temperature and stress levels often determine the amount of water each person needs in a typical day.
Take your body weight, measured in pounds, and divide it by 2. The result is the amount of water you should intake daily, measured in ounces. For example, if you weigh 100 pounds, you should be consuming 50 ounces of fresh water in a day. On an average, men need around ten glasses of water every day, while women can do with eight.
Dehydration is dangerous and uncomfortable
Severe dehydration requires immediate medical attention. Most people experience sluggishness, headache, and reduced sweat or urine output. Examples of serious complications are kidney failure, seizures, brain inflammation and even death.
You can overcome these problems by drinking more water on a daily basis. Symptoms such as fever, vomiting, irritability, and confusion should be taken seriously, especially when observed in children and senior citizens.
Clear urine is not the goal
Contrary to popular belief, clear urine is not the goal for proper hydration; rather it shows that water is passed without being used. It also shows that excess minerals have not been flushed. Instead, pale yellow urine is considered optimal and healthy. Be cognizant, while observing your urine to determine whether or not you are dehydrated.