A lot of us do not drink enough water. The general rule of thumb is eight 8 ounce glasses, totaling 64 ounces of water a day. Others say you should drink half your body weight in ounces of water. Whichever is true, some of us drink more than enough while some of us don’t drink nearly enough. There is even a figure floating around that 75% of Americans do not consume the amount of water required for our bodies to function optimally. I’m guilty of it myself. Just the other evening, I was chatting with friends at a restaurant when I took a sip from the water glass in front of me. I realized it was the first sip of water I’d taken all day. I know, I know…I need to do better. This got me to thinking about water, dehydration and the effects it can have on my body. Everyone knows that drinking water is important, that water makes up 60 percent of our body weight and that feeling thirsty means you need to drink some water. What some of us don’t know is that if you’re thirsty, it’s too late – you’re already dehydrated. I was shocked to learn some of the other unexpected or hidden signs of dehydration and how seriously dehydration can affect your health.
Here’s the scoop…dehydration occurs when you lose more fluid than you’ve taken in. This loss of fluid leaves your body lacking what it needs to carry out its normal function. On average, a person loses between 2 and 3 liters of water each day through the breath, sweat and urine. It is crucially important to replenish and restore your body by consuming plenty of fluids and foods high in water such as fruits and veggies. Why? Because dehydration can lead to more than just dry skin and chapped lips. Many of the signs and symptoms of dehydration are hidden because they are often blamed on something else. We’re all familiar with the common or mild signs of dehydration including thirst, dry mouth, dark-colored urine and fatigue. However, there are three other classifications of dehydration – secondary, chronic and severe – each with its own set of uncommon symptoms.
Signs of SECONDARY DEHYDRATION include:
- extreme thirst
- dryness of mouth
- reduced urination
- cold feet and hands
- increased heart rate
- loss of appetite.
Symptoms of SEVERE DEHYDRATION include:
- change in behavior
- dizziness that doesn’t subside when lying down
- inability to stand or walk
- hurried breathing
- rapid pulse
- cold sticky skin or hot dry skin
- loss of consciousness
- sunken eyes
- shriveled dry skin that lacks elasticity
- low blood pressure
***Medical attention should be sought immediately if one is experiencing symptoms of severe dehydration.
Now here’s where it gets interesting…when dehydration persists, it becomes CHRONIC. Chronic dehydration can cause or worsen many different symptoms. In his book “Water: For Health For Healing For Life: You’re Not Sick, You’re Thirsty”, Dr. F. Batmanghelidj identifies 5 conditions that he believes are indicative to states of dehydration: asthma, allergies, hypertension, constipation and type II diabetes. Other common health problems that doctors say may actually be symptoms of mild or moderate long-term dehydration are:
- digestion problems
- peptic ulcers
- high blood pressure
- migraine headaches
- water retention
- weight gain
- low back pain
- unexplained pain
- morning sickness
I’m no doctor, but when you think about it, it makes sense. Water is essential to life and forms the basis of all body fluids in the body, including blood. Water aids in the transportation and absorption of nutrients and helps eliminate waste. Take a look at all of the functions of water in the body…
***Read Part II for more on treatment, prevention***
“Dehydration “. Mayo Clinic. 8/29/2010 <http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/dehydration/DS00561>.
“Dehydration’s Hidden Symptoms”. World Chiropractic Alliance. 8/29/2010 <http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/dehydration/DS00561>.
“Signs and Symptoms of Dehydration”. 8/29/2010 <www.symptomsofdehydration.com>.
“Learn About Dehydration”. 8/29/2010 <deydrationsymptoms.org>.
Batmanghelidj, F.. Water: For Health For Healing For Life: You’re Not Sick, You’re Thirsty. New York, NY: Warner Books, Inc., 2003.