Dehydration – More Common Than You Think

May 19, 2014, by Ken Jorgustin

dehydration-symptoms

Up to 75% of our body weight is made up of water.

Five quarts of blood coursing through your body are ninety percent water, and the rest of your body holds between fifty and eighty quarts of water. Your brain and nerve tissues are eighty percent water. Most of ‘you’ is water.

Just a few percent drop in hydration will make your short-term memory so fuzzy that you will be unable to remember your friends’ names, have trouble doing basic math, and will forget where you put your keys…


 

What Causes Dehydration

Dehydration occurs when the amount of water leaving the body is greater than the amount being taken in. Makes sense, yes?

Some say that seventy-five percent of Americans are chronically dehydrated.

Do you have a lack of energy? Low energy might be the first sign that the blood, tissues, and organs are not getting enough water — and your liver and brain are the least tolerant.

We lose water routinely when we breathe, and humidified air leaves the body.

We lose water when we sweat to cool the body.

We lose water when we rid the body of waste products.

We lose even more water than normal when our environment is HOT, especially when we’re laboring in it, and we sweat more.

We lose more water while in very dry environments.

Although it may seem counter intuitive, we lose water when we drink coffee and other caffeinated beverages which are actually ‘diuretics’. Alcohol is also a diuretic and will dehydrate the body.

As you age you also lose your thirst instinct that you had when you were younger. You may not realize how thirsty you really are…

Most people associate dehydration with a hot environment. But it is also common in a cold environment.

 

Symptoms Of Mild To Moderate Dehydration

Dry, sticky mouth
Sleepiness or tiredness — children are likely to be less active than usual
Thirst (not always though…)
Decreased urine output
Dark Colored Urine
Fatigue or Weakness
Dizziness or lightheadedness
Head Rushes
Loss of Appetite
Dry skin
Headache
Constipation
Skin Flushing
Chills
Cramps

 

How To Know If You Are Dehydrated

Unfortunately, thirst isn’t always a reliable gauge of the body’s need for water, especially in children and older adults.

A better indicator is the color of your urine:

Clear or light-colored urine means you’re well hydrated, whereas a dark yellow or amber color usually signals dehydration.

color-of-urine
Image: ClevelandClinic.org

 

What To Do If You Think You Are Dehydrated

DRINK MORE WATER!

When a person becomes dehydrated they have also lost electrolytes so it is very important to replenish them along with the water. The type of electrolytes needed for re-hydration are sodium and potassium salts usually found in sports drinks like Gatorade and pediatric formulas like Pedialite. Electrolytes are needed for electro-chemical reactions within cells. A lack of electrolytes in the body can interfere with the chemical reactions needed for healthy cell operation and is known as water intoxication.

Lesson: Force yourself to drink more water than you otherwise would.