Are You Dehydrated? 6 Signs You May Need to Drink Up
Published: May 28, 2019
When it comes to water intake, you’ve probably heard that every day, you should consume:
- Six to eight glasses
- Half your body weight in ounces
- At least two liters (including what’s in your food)
These rules of thumb aren’t bad or wrong, but they are just that: guidelines. There is no set amount for every single body. What keeps you hydrated may not be enough for me.
So how can you tell if you’re adequately hydrated or need to up the ounces? Listen to your body.
What dehydration looks and feels like
Proper hydration is essential for your body to function best. Fluids help preserve and provide nutrients to the brain, kidney, liver and heart.
While adequate hydration comes with no signs or symptoms, you can likely assume you’re hydrated if things are functioning properly and you feel well on a consistent basis.
If you’re not properly hydrated, however, your body will let you know.
Here are some signs and symptoms of dehydration:
When our bodies are dehydrated, they experience a decrease in blood volume. And when our brains aren’t getting enough blood flow, headaches can occur.
Dehydration headaches can be mild or severe. They can be felt in one specific area of the head or all over, and they usually get worse with movement. Some migraine sufferers even report dehydration as a trigger for their attacks.
Muscle cramps and aches
Cramping isn’t just an athlete’s problem, but exercise can contribute to dehydration, which is a common cause of muscle cramps.
Our muscles require plenty of water and electrolytes to do what we ask of them. Without enough fluid, our muscles can become extremely sensitive and spasm or contract involuntarily.
We need water to flush our bodies of cellular waste. A buildup of toxins can lead to inflammation, which often results in pain. Water, which helps lubricate our joints, can also help ward off joint pain and discomfort.
Dry mouth and bad breath
A glass of water may provide instant relief for a dry mouth and throat, but consistent hydration helps ensure that the mouth always produces enough saliva.
Saliva is vital in keeping the growth of bacteria in the mouth at bay. An overgrowth can lead to bad breath and tooth decay.
Lack of urine output
Most adults produce at least two cups of urine a day. Urination is critical in helping our bodies get rid of waste and toxins.
Decreased urine output can cause a number of complications, including infection. If you’re urinating less than three or four times a day, you may be dehydrated.
Dark, concentrated urine is often another sign of dehydration, and that can eventually cause kidney stones.
Inability to sweat
Sweating is the body’s way of cooling itself. Without perspiration, the body can overheat.
Heatstroke is a serious, sometimes fatal condition that can occur when our bodies reach a temperature of 104 degrees Fahrenheit or higher.
Just feeling off
The majority of the brain is composed of water, and without enough of it, the brain’s energy supply can dip. Dehydration can lead to fatigue, lethargy, mood swings and even depression.
Difficulty concentrating at work or school can also be the result of even slight dehydration.
When in doubt, take a sip
When it comes to how much water you need and how often you need it, there are several variables involved. They include:
- Temperature and climate
- Body strength and size
Those who are ill, small or frail; those who live in warmer climates; and those who exercise often generally have greater hydration needs. But everyone really ought to make it a priority.
Just as you may carry a phone with you wherever you go, get in the habit of carrying a water bottle – and refill it as needed. Spread hydration out slowly over the course of the day. And when in doubt, take a sip! Many people are often surprised at how many issues and ailments can be remedied by simply improving their hydration levels.