Dehydration is the absence of sufficient amounts of water in the body. The human body is made up of around 55 to roughly 80 percent water. And losing as little as 1.5 percent of our body’s water can cause symptoms of dehydration.
Water helps the systems within the human body to function. The absence of it, especially the minerals that we take from it, like sodium and potassium, can cause various complications. Dehydration can affect a person’s physical and cognitive performance. It can also lead to severe, long-term health problems, like urinary tract infection, difficulty regulating the body’s temperature and cardiovascular-related problems.
Common Causes of Dehydration
We can become dehydrated due to different internal and external factors. This may include environmental as well as physiological factors, including a person’s activities, diet and overall health. Here are some of the most common causes of dehydration.
- Long exposure to the sun or heat.
- Sweating too much after vigorous activities, like sports or exercise.
- Taking rinks or food items that are diuretic and/or dehydrating, like alcohol.
- Underlying health problems, including diabetes.
- Fever or a body temperature of 38C.
- Diarrhoea or vomiting.
Symptoms of dehydration
Dehydration and the complications it can cause can be avoided through immediate treatment and response. Feeling thirst is the body’s way of telling you that you need to hydrate, but sometimes, we disregard it or fail to notice it. So here are some symptoms you should look out for to recognize dehydration:
Excessive fatigue can be a sign of dehydration in adults. This can be both mental and physical fatigue. Not being able to concentrate and being confused can mean that your brain lacks proper oxygen and water. Physical fatigue, like tiredness, sleepiness, shortness of breath, and muscle cramps, can also mean that you are losing water in your system and need to rehydrate.
Many things can cause fatigue, such as being under a lot of stress or not sleeping on comfortable bedding. Take note that sleep and hydration have a co-relation. The lack of sleep can cause fatigue and dehydration. Meanwhile, the body also loses water during sleep mainly because it processes fluids, and there is no fluid intake to replace it. Therefore, regular and sufficient sleep is needed to maintain hydration.
Moreover, be sure to have an environment conducive to restful sleep. Make sure you have the best mattress type for your needs. If you get hot when you sleep, try to get cooling mattresses or set up your room to be cooler to avoid excessive sweating and disruptions in your sleep. Be sure to address other causes of fatigue in addition to rehydrating yourself as well.
Low Amount or Dark Urine
Your urine color, as well as its volume and characteristics, can determine many things regarding your health. If you are producing low amounts of urine or do not urinate too often, this could mean you are dehydrated. A hydrated person should normally be able to urinate around six to eight times every 24 hours.
Moreover, having dark-colored urine, like amber or almost brownish in color, can be a sign of mild to more severe dehydration. Make sure you consistently urinate with a pale or light color throughout the day. This is a healthy sign that you are hydrated at a normal level.
Another symptom of dehydration is dry skin, such as cracked lips or dull skin appearance. When you get dehydrated, your skin cells get dehydrated, and it will show even on the outermost layer of your skin or your epidermis. You might notice that your skin is scaly, flaky or patchy, and it loses elasticity. You may also notice your lips are cracked and peeling, and your nails are brittle and fragile.
If dehydration lasts for too long, this can cause long-lasting effects on your complexion. You can do a quick test to see if your skin is moisturized and you are hydrated by pinching a part of your cheek or neck. If the area does not bounce back right away, there is a probability that you are dehydrated and have to rehydrate as soon as possible.
Dizziness or Light-Headedness
Experiencing headaches is a sign you may need more water. Having less water in your system can cause poor blood flow within your upper and lower extremities. Your brain may not get the sufficient oxygen and minerals it needs. Hence you’ll feel headaches as well as dizziness or light-headedness.
Some people may think that working out or spending too much time in the sun is causing their headaches or dizziness, which may be true. However, sometimes it is a lack of water that causes these aches and pains, and it is a clear signal from your body to rehydrate and cool down.
Low Blood Pressure
Not having enough fluid in the body can sometimes lead to low blood pressure as it also decreases the volume of blood that circulates within your body. This can further cause heart issues or heart palpitations.
When you are dehydrated, your blood vessels do not have enough fluid in them to move through the body effectively. Therefore, your organs cannot receive sufficient nutrients and oxygen that it needs to function properly. This can lead to low blood volume or hypovolemic shock, impairing heart functions. It can be a life-threatening condition if not treated immediately.
Stay Hydrated and Healthy
Water is important in keeping the body energized and alive. It helps in digestion, blood flow and thermal regulation, among its numerous other benefits. Do not let your body get dehydrated throughout the day. Drink plenty of fluids and be mindful of your diet, activities and lifestyle to keep yourself hydrated, healthy and in the best conditions.