Did you know that water makes up two-thirds of your body weight? With the amount of water in our bodies, it’s no wonder 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, it helps flush unnecessary toxins out of our bodies.
Many people can mistake the feelings of thirst and hunger, which can lead to mild to moderate dehydration. When this happens, we must know the warning signs to take immediate measures and fill up on water before it gets serious. Here are eight signs to look out for when you think you might be low on fluids.
Eight red flags reveal a body that lacks water.
“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
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 hurts, don’t reach for the painkillers. Instead, go for your water bottle. As soon as you rehydrate, your headache will improve–if dehydration was the cause. However, if it persists, the issue may be more serious, so you should seek medical attention.
2. Bad breath and dry mouth
Water provides saliva production, which is essential for antibacterial protection in your mouth. When dehydrated, you produce less saliva, which means bacteria can grow, leading to stinky breath. Of course, brushing your teeth is essential, but the first step is to drink more water to improve your general mouth hygiene! Dry mouth and throat can also come 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.
Also, dehydration can cause your urine to have a foul ammonia smell because the chemicals get more concentrated. After all, 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. However, your joints can withstand tremendous pressure when adequately hydrated, 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 affects your heart rate.
Director of cardiac electrophysiology Dr. Shephal Doshi says, “Dehydration can cause changes in your body’s electrolytes and lower 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 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 straight away.
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 can’t 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
As we mentioned before, we often mistake signs of dehydration as hunger. Keep an eye on your food cravings, as they usually indicate that you’re missing water rather than food. If you’re hungry for something salty, drink a sports drink with salt instead, or make your 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
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 caused by dehydration, as lack of water limits oxygen flow to the brain. To improve these, try drinking water at regular intervals 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 more!
10 Ways to Drink More Water
1. Keep a water bottle nearby
One of the best ways to drink more water is to keep your refillable bottle handy. Refill it regularly so you’ll always have hydration when you need it. Keep it in the fridge at home or work if you like chilled water. Having your personal bottle with you is a simple way to stay hydrated during the day.
2. There’s an app for that
If you’re trying to remember to drink more each day, you might download an H2O app on your iPhone. When you take a sip, you record how much you drank. The app keeps track using the image of a person filling up with water. You can see how much fluid you consumed over the past weeks, which helps you see patterns of how you felt compared to how much water you drank. On some apps, you set reminders to remember to take a sip every so often. So, check out your app store for an app that works for you.
3. Serve water at meals
A simple way to increase your water intake is to serve water at every meal. If you serve wine with your meal, include a glass of water because alcohol is dehydrating. Serving water at meals is especially important for kids who often forget to drink water during the day. Making water a regular part of your meals motivates you and your family to drink more water.
4. Order water when eating out
Opt for water instead of soda when you go out to your favorite restaurant. You not only save money, but you consume fewer calories, which could prove helpful in losing weight in the long run. Sipping water instead of soda also helps you enjoy the flavors of your food. So, the next time you go out, ask for a tall glass with your meal.
5. Eat water-filled foods
Even though drinking enough daily fluid is essential, eating water-filled foods helps you stay hydrated. Include these foods in your daily menu to increase your intake.