10 Shocking Signs That You Are Dehydrated

Exhausted dehydrated thirsty hiker in desert lies down and pours water into mouth from canteen

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Written by: Kavata Kithome

As a health coach, I am always telling my clients to drink more water. I even have a guideline on how much water they should drink. Yet we never really talk about the other side of hydration.

In my opinion, there is nothing worse than to follow a set of guidelines and still come to find out that you are still dehydrated. Today I would like to take a moment to discuss what dehydration signs to look out for.

It is important to remember that water makes up two-thirds of body weight. You are unable to live very long without water. Every part of your body depends on water and it is vital to key roles such as:

  • Maintaining the balance of body fluids
  • Regulating and maintaining body temperature
  • Lubricating your joints and eyes
  • Protecting the tissue, spinal cord and joints
  • Helps the body remove waste products and toxins
  • Aiding in digestion
  • Helping in controlling caloric intake
  • Helping in keeping the skin looking healthy and youthful

It is important to know that your body needs water in order to work properly. Sometimes, more than usually, your body may lose water through physical activity, excessive sweating, diarrhea, vomiting, diabetes and frequent urination. This can lead to an electrolyte imbalance and eventually dehydration, which makes it difficult for your body to function at its best.

What is concerning is that most people don’t even know when their body is lacking adequate water and this is why it is important to understand the signs of dehydration, so you can better troubleshoot and give your body the water it needs.

Here are 10 warning signs that indicate your body is lacking water:

1. Headaches And Lightheadedness

This is possibly the top sign that your body is lacking water. Your body hydration levels dropping may lead to a reduced amount of fluid surrounding your brain that protects it from mild bumps and movement. Dehydration decreases the flow of oxygen and blood to the brain. According to the Handbook of Clinical Neurology, dehydration could be a big trigger for migraines and headaches.

The next time you are feeling a headache coming on, reach for a drink of water instead of a pill. I usually add a small pinch of pink Himalayan salt to my water and usually my headache/migraine subsides shortly after.

2. Poor Concentration Or “Brain Fog”

Your brain usually shows signs of dehydration as it is made of 90% water. When the brain lacks water, it can influence your decision making, memory and mood. Dehydration can be the reason for brain fog symptoms, such as forgetfulness and difficulty focusing, thinking and communicating. This is why it is so important to rehydrate by consistently taking in adequate amounts of water.

3. Dry Mouth And Bad Breath

When your body is dehydrated, it produces less saliva; this leads to excess growth of bacteria and thusly causing bad breath. Water works as a lubricant that keeps the mucous membrane moist in the throat and therefore, prevents dry mouth and bad breath.

4. Constipation And Other Digestive Issues

As mentioned above, water aids in lubricating the digestive system and keeps the digestive tract flexible and clean. This keeps bowel movements regular, which in turn prevents constipation. Lack of water in the body hardens the stool, which leads to constipation; it can even cause heartburn and indigestion.

5. Sudden Food Cravings

The next time hunger strikes, reach for a glass of water before grabbing a snack. When you are dehydrated, your body sends false signals to your brain that you are hungry, when in all actuality you are just thirsty. This happens because, when your body loses water and electrolytes, it craves salty foods. I usually drink water with lemon and a pinch pink Himalayan salt to help quench my thirst.

When you find yourself craving something sweet, it may be because your body is having a hard time producing glycogen. In times like this, try fruits like watermelon, berries or papaya.

6. Reduced Urination And Change In Color

While I know it can be annoying always having to go to the bathroom, if you don’t, then you may be dehydrated. When properly hydrated, this results in regular urination, roughly 4-7 times a day. Not urinating at regular intervals can be problematic, because your body releases toxins through urination.

The color of your urine also is a great indicator of your hydration level. Clear or light-coloured urine means a well hydrated body, while dark yellow or amber color urine means concentrated urine and indicates that the body lacks water.

7. Fatigue And Lethargy

If you are feeling fatigued and lethargic, it may mean your body is dehydrated. It can also mean low blood pressure and inadequate oxygen supply. Lack of oxygen causes sleepiness, fatigue and an overall lethargy.

Even worse, your body works much harder to keep blood circulating properly, transport nutrients and even keep you breathing well when you are dehydrated. When you feel like you are lacking energy, drink a glass of water and keep drinking to help keep yourself energized.

8. Joint And Muscle Pain

There is nothing worse than joint and muscle pain. I always want to just stay in bed when my muscles and joints hurt. Staying hydrated is so vital to keeping your joints and cartilage healthy and pain-free; this is because they are made up of 80% water. If your body lacks water, then your bones begin to grind against each other, which causes pain.

As a runner, I can tell you that when my body is well hydrated, I can easily jump, run and even fall awkwardly without pain. Depletion of fluids can make the muscles contract and lead to cramps.

9. Scaly Dry Skin And Lips

I have suffered from eczema for a long time and I can always tell when I am nutrient or water deficient. My skin always lets me know by feeling dry and scaly.

Your skin needs water in order to remain in good condition, as it is the largest organ. When you don’t take in enough water, your body is not able to wash away excess dirt and oil accumulated on the skin throughout the day, which leads to acne, eczema and psoriasis. Another indication of dehydration is chapped lips. Drinking an adequate amount of water is really great and one of the best ways for hydrating your skin from the inside out.

10. Accelerated Heartbeat

Dehydration has been found to influence your heart’s rate and performance, because it causes a decrease in plasma volume. According to a study in the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, dehydration was found to change the heart rate, as well as cause modifications in electrolytes present in the body, leading to low blood pressure.

If you ever feel your heart beating faster, sip water slowly and if the symptoms persist, consult your doctor immediately.

Now that you are properly motivated to hydrate, here are 6 tips for preventing dehydration:

1. Start your day with a large glass of water at room temperature. I like to squeeze a ½ a lemon in my water to help jump-start my metabolism, alkalize my body and hydrate my cells.

2. Drink one full glass of water before every meal.

3. If you often forget to drink water, set a reminder to drink a glass of water every 3-4 hours.

4. Carry your own water bottleno matter where you are going.

5. Include water-rich fruits and veggies in your diet.

6. Avoid drinking beverages like alcohol, energy drinks and other caffeinated drinks, as these cause dehydration.

Hydration is so important to maintaining optimum health. Try the tips above and share your experiences with us in the comments below.

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Kavata Kithome
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Kavata Kithome

Health Advocate at One More Step
Kavata Kithome is an advocate for living your best life, full of health and longevity. While working closely with gym owners and personal trainers, she was able to sculpt a well-rounded view of fitness and understands how to incorporate it with a healthy balanced diet. She is a regular contributor to the One More Step Lifestyle brand.
Kavata Kithome
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