“Drinking water is like washing out your insides. The water will cleanse the system, fill you up, decrease your caloric load and improve the function of all your tissues.” – Kevin R. Stone
Did you know that water makes up to two thirds of your body weight? With the amount of water in our bodies, it’s no wonder that it’s so important to us. Water has a lot of vital functions in the human body without which we wouldn’t be able to function. For instance, water lubricates our eyes and joints, helps maintain the balance of our body fluids, aids digestion, regulates body temperature and much, much more. Perhaps most importantly though, it helps flush unnecessary toxins out of our body.
Lead scientist Lawrence E. Armstrong says, “Our thirst sensation doesn’t really appear until we are 1 [percent] or 2 percent dehydrated. By then dehydration is already setting in and starting to impact how our mind and body perform.”
A lot of people can mistake the feelings of thirst and hunger and this can lead to mild to moderate dehydration. When this happens, it’s important that we know what the warning signs are so that we can take immediate measures and fill up on water before it gets serious. Here’s eight signs to look out for when you think you might be low on fluids.
Here Are 8 Warning Signs Your Body Is Lacking Water
1. Headaches, dizziness, lightheadedness and balance problems
When you drink enough water, you supply your brain with fluid, which surrounds it and protects it from movement and slight bumps. A drop in your hydration level means there’s less fluid to protect your brain, which results in headaches, feeling dizzy, and sometimes even losing your balance. It can sometimes trigger painful migraines as well. So, if you feel like your head is hurting, don’t reach for the painkillers but go for your water bottle instead. As soon as you’re rehydrated, if your headache was caused by that, it’ll go away. If it persists, however, the issue may be more serious, so you should seek medical attention.
2. Bad breath and dry mouth
Water provides for the production of saliva, which is essential for antibacterial protection in your mouth. When you’re dehydrated, you produce less saliva, which means bacteria can grow, leading to stinky breath. Of course, brushing your teeth is important, but to improve your general mouth hygiene, the first step is to drink more water! Dry mouth and throat can also be caused from dehydration, so if you feel that, it’s a sign you need a drink of water!
3. Change in the color, smell and consistency of urine
If you’re well hydrated, your urine should always be a shade of pale yellow. If it looks dark yellow and appears to be more concentrated, that’s a sign that you need some water.
“Mild dehydration may show itself in the form of bright or dark yellow urine. If your urine is darker than pale yellow or you’re feeling thirsty, then you need to drink some water,” says Rima Kleiner, MS, RD.
Also, dehydration can cause for your urine to have a foul ammonia smell – that’s because the chemicals get more concentrated because there’s not enough water to dilute them.
4. Constant joint and muscle pain
As we mentioned before, water is essential in lubricating our joints. In fact, joints and cartilage contain about 80 percent water! When you’re dehydrated, your joints are less lubricated and that causes your bones to grind against each other, causing joint pain. When properly hydrated however, your joints can withstand great pressure, such as running a marathon, jumping, or sudden movements. Not just that, but studies have also proved that muscle cramps are caused by dehydration as well – so if you want good muscle tone, make sure to stock up on fluids!
5. Accelerated heartbeat
Liquids are essential to controlling blood plasma volume, and dehydration means your blood gets more viscous. High viscosity affects blood circulation, which in turn has an effect on your heart rate.
Director of cardiac electrophysiology Dr. Shephal Doshi says, “Dehydration can cause changes in your body’s electrolytes and also lowers blood pressure. This puts stress on the body and, as a result, could cause an abnormal heartbeat.”
Therefore, with dehydration, the electrolyte level in your body changes, which affects the heartbeat and can also cause anxiety and panic. If you feel an acceleration in your heartbeat, try drinking some water slowly, sip by sip, to see if you feel better. If it doesn’t improve, consult with your doctor straightaway.
6. Dry, scaly skin
As the largest organ in our body, the skin needs a lot of hydration to stay healthy. If your skin is dry and lacks elasticity, that’s a sign that your body may need water. Not just that, but dehydration also causes excess sweating as the internal organs aren’t able to wash away toxins due to the lack of water. It also increases the risk of acne and eczema. To ensure your skin stays healthy and well moisturized, use a good moisturizing lotion at home and drink plenty of water.
7. Sudden food cravings
Like we mentioned before, we often mistake signs of dehydration as hunger. Keep an eye on your food cravings as they normally indicate that you’re missing water rather than food. If you’re feeling peckish for something salty, drink a sports drink with salt instead, or make your own lemon water with salt. If you want to eat something sweet, opt for fruit like watermelon, papaya or berries as they have high levels of natural fructose.
8. Brain fog and fatigue
Dr. Woodson Merrell says, “Half of the people who come to me complaining of fatigue are actually dehydrated.” Our brains are made out of 90% water, so when we’re dehydrated, the brain can’t process information correctly, causing brain fog such as poor memory and loss of concentration.
Fatigue is also something caused by dehydration, as lack of water limits oxygen flow to the brain. To improve these, try drinking water in regular intervals of time and take a break from what you’re doing.
Hydration is mainly water, but it can also come from fruit, veggies, flavored water, clear soups and many more!
Armstrong adds, “Dehydration affects all people, and staying properly hydrated is just as important for those who work all day at a computer as it is for marathon runners, who can lose up to 8 percent of their body weight as water when they compete.”
Therefore, if you see any of the symptoms of dehydration, make sure to take care of them before it gets any worse. It’ll definitely improve your overall quality of life!