These are the consequences of drinking too little water. Drinking water is essential for survival. Our body consists of 60 percent water and every body function depends on water in order to function properly. Dehydration, or a lack of body fluid, brings consequences. Although mild dehydration is easy to treat, severe dehydration is a serious condition that can lead to unconsciousness, organ failure or even death. This article discusses the common signs and symptoms of dehydration.
In short: Dehydration occurs when more fluids leave the body than enter. Factors that reduce fluid intake or increase fluid loss can contribute to dehydration.
Thirst is a need for liquids and serves as an automatic reminder to drink water. It is often the first indication that the body needs water. Your body is equipped with a complex system to regulate your fluid balance. Even a small change in the moisture balance can give a thirst stimulus. For most people drinking water is an effective way to stay hydrated when they are thirsty. In some cases, however, thirst is not a reliable indicator of the moisture balance. Some older people should handle their fluid intake much more consciously, as the thirsty feeling can deteriorate over the years. You should drink more than you would like to do. If you sweat a lot during intense exercise or in high temperatures, you can lose a lot of moisture. In such situations, you can drink more water to stay hydrated.
In short: Thirst is the first indicator of dehydration. For most people, this is an effective way to drink.
2. Changes in the color or amount of urine
Your urine tells you a lot about your fluid balance, because you lose the most fluid through this way. Taking control over the amount and composition of your urine is a way for the body to maintain a good fluid balance. Urine, produced by the kidneys, consists of water and waste products that your body has to excrete. If you become dehydrated, your kidneys will retain water by concentrating urine. 10 Ways to keep your kidneys healthy. This allows waste to be excreted while water remains in the body for important biological functions. The concentration of urine influences the color and smell. If you are well hydrated, your urine should have a clear, pale, yellow color and be almost odorless. On the other hand, cloudy, dark yellow urine is a sign of dehydration. A honey yellow color is an indication of mild dehydration. An amber color with a strong smell may indicate severe dehydration. Not only do the kidneys monitor the urine concentration, they also retain moisture by reducing urine production. If the body is severely dehydrated, the kidneys completely stop the urine production. However, the amount of urine varies per person, so there is no fixed amount that you should produce daily. If you experience a marked decrease in your urine, it may be that you are dehydrated. Remember that certain foods, medications and medical conditions can also affect the color and quantity of the urine. If your urine has a consistent color different from light yellow, consult your doctor. What happens in your body if you drink soda.
In short: the color and quantity of your urine production are good indicators of your fluid balance. Dark yellow urine or low urine production are signs of dehydration.
3. Fatigue or sleepiness
Fatigue can have many different causes, but dehydration can be one of them. Many studies have shown that dehydration causes fatigue and reduces endurance during exercise. That is why drinking enough water is important during training. Not only training can cause fatigue related to dehydration. Studies have shown that 1 to 3 percent fluid loss of your body weight is seen as mild dehydration. This can cause fatigue and drowsiness during normal daily activities. In a study of young healthy women, a water restriction for 24 hours caused drowsiness, confusion, fatigue and reduced alertness. All of these symptoms improved when the women could drink freely again after the 24 hours had passed. Another study, in men who lost 1.6 percent of their body weight of fluid, experienced a significant increase in fatigue during rest and exercise (14). This amount of fluid loss can easily occur during normal daily activities if you do not drink enough water during the day.
In short: Fatigue or drowsiness can be a sign of dehydration. Drinking water can give you energy and make you more alert.
Dehydration can cause headache or migraine in some people. One study found that fluid loss of 1.4 percent of your body weight caused headaches and a bad mood in healthy women. Another study found similar results in men. Water restriction for 37 hours, resulting in 2.7 percent moisture loss, caused headaches and concentration problems. Fortunately, headaches can easily be remedied by dehydration by drinking water. In a small study the headache was remedied by drinking water from the 34 participants, except for one. In 22 of the 34 people the headache was resolved within half an hour, with eleven participants within three hours (16). Remember that there are many different types of headaches that are not all caused by a lack of fluid. Nevertheless, it may be a signal that your body needs water.
In short: Dehydration can cause headaches. In most cases, drinking water can cause headaches caused by dehydration.
5. Changes in skin elasticity
Dehydration can cause changes in the appearance and structure of your skin. Your skin consists of about 30 percent water and is responsible for the firmness and elasticity. A healthy, well-hydrated skin returns to its normal shape after it is pulled. This elastic property of the skin is known as a skin turgor. On the other hand, moisture gets out of the skin when it is dehydrated and it is distributed over the vital organs, so that they can continue to function properly. This can reduce the elasticity of the skin. To check the elasticity of the skin, pull it with your thumb and forefinger. If you are well hydrated, your skin immediately jumps back when you release it. If it takes half a second or longer for your skin to retreat to its normal shape, you may be dehydrated. A shortage of moisture in the skin can cause dryness and it can feel cool and clammy.
In short: Reduced skin turgor, or elasticity, is a signal of dehydration. A skin that feels dry, cool and clammy may be dehydrated.
6. Muscle cramp
Muscle cramps can be a signal of dehydration. Cramp occurs especially when dehydration is caused by excessive sweating. By sweating you can lose a lot of fluid and sodium, an electrolyte that plays a role in muscle contractions. When your supply of fluid and sodium runs out, muscles can sometimes contract involuntarily. This is known as muscle cramp. Therefore, sufficient moisture is especially important during strenuous training or movement in high temperatures.
In short: A shortage of fluid and sodium can lead to muscle cramps. Drinking water is especially important during strenuous exercise.
7. Drop in blood pressure
Low blood pressure can be a symptom of dehydration. Dehydration lowers blood volume in the body, reducing the pressure on the artery walls. By low blood pressure you can get a light feeling in your head or dizzy when you stand up from a lying position. This is because your heart needs to pump faster to get blood to the brain if there is too little fluid in the body. When you get up, it can take a few seconds before it carries blood from your limbs to your brain. Low blood pressure can also be felt weak and tired.
8. Fast heartbeat or palpitations
Dehydration can cause a rapid heartbeat or palpitations. Palpitations give you the feeling that your heart is skipping. These abnormalities can be explained remarkably enough because they try to compensate for the lack of fluid in the body. If there is insufficient fluid in your body, the blood volume in your veins decreases. Your body then works hard to transport enough blood to your organs by raising the heart rate, allowing the blood to be pumped through your body faster (5, 26). When this happens, it can feel like your heart is in a rapid state, fluttering or pumping extra hard. In most cases of dehydration, this faster heart rate compensates for the low blood volume. In addition, the organs and tissues get what they need. If the dehydration becomes more severe, the heart is less able to compensate for the lack of fluid. If the heart does not get the blood to the organs, it will eventually stop. Remember that not only dehydration affects the heartbeat. A rapid heartbeat or palpitations can also indicate a more serious medical condition. That said, if your heart rate does not become normal after you have drunk water, consult a medical professional.
In short: A shortage of body fluid causes a decrease in blood volume. The heart compensates for the low blood volume by pumping harder and faster blood through your body.
9. Irritability or confusion
Dehydration can have a clear effect on brain function. Studies have shown that even mild dehydration can cause irritability and lower brain function. A number of studies have found that a loss of 1 to 2 percent of body fluid can cause symptoms such as anxiety, melancholy, concentration problems and reduced short-term memory. The brain function can thereby deteriorate as the dehydration increases. Severe dehydration can lead to confusion. Confusion and even madness are even common symptoms among older adults who have become dehydrated. Older adults are especially at risk of dehydration because the feeling of thirst decreases over time. Conversely, drinking a lot of water has a positive effect on brain function. Both children and the elderly can perform tasks better when they are well hydrated. In a study, the children who received extra water had a better short-term memory and they performed better at school. All in all, the fluid balance has a significant impact on mental performance.
In short: Dehydration can have a negative influence on brain function and cause symptoms such as melancholy, anxiety, concentration problems and confusion.
10. Serious complications and organ failure
Severe dehydration can lead to very serious complications. Every organ in the body needs moisture to function properly. If the dehydration is severe, the organs can stop. A severe loss of body fluid can lead to a state of shock, a potentially fatal condition. A shock state occurs when the blood volume is so low that the brain and other organs do not get the oxygen they need. In addition, shock can cause complications such as unconsciousness, brain damage, kidney failure and heart attack. If a shock is not treated immediately, death is the consequence. Having said that, shock is a rare consequence of dehydration that only occurs with extreme moisture loss. This is most likely when fluid is lost due to trauma, severe burns or prolonged vomiting and diarrhea.
In short: Extreme dehydration can cause shock and organ failure. This degree of dehydration can be fatal if it is not treated immediately.
How do you prevent dehydration?
The key to preventing dehydration is drinking plenty of water throughout the day, just like other drinks like unsweetened coffee and tea. Water-rich foods such as fruit and vegetables are also moisturizing. However, there is no fixed amount you have to drink daily to stay hydrated. The need for moisture differs per person and is influenced by the degree of movement, sweat and climate.
Nonetheless, here are a few tips to stay hydrated:
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