Water makes up about two-thirds of your body weight, and a person cannot live without water for more than a few days. Each cell, organ and tissue in the body depends on water. It plays very key roles, for instance:
- It helps maintain the balance of body fluids.
- It regulates and maintains body temperature.
- It lubricates your joints and eyes.
- It protects your tissues, spinal cord and joints.
- It helps your body remove waste products and toxins.
- It aids digestion.
- It helps control calorie intake.
- It helps keep your skin looking good and youthful.
Your body would stop working properly without water. Hence, it is crucial to keep your body hydrated. In order to stay hydrated you should drink fluids and eat foods rich in water content.
At times, more than usual your body may lose water. This can occur because of vigorous physical activity, excessive sweating, diarrhea, vomiting, diabetes and frequent urination.
This is the reason for an electrolyte imbalance in your body, leading to dehydration and making it difficult for your body to function at its best.
Many people are not aware when their body lacks adequate water. If you understand the signs of dehydration, it will help you know when you need to boost your water intake.
Here are the top 10 warning signs that indicate your body lacks water.
- Headaches and lightheadedness
Some of the possible signs that your body lacks water are headaches and lightheadedness. A drop in your body’s hydration level might lead to a reduced amount of fluid surrounding your brain, which protects it from mild bumps and movement.
Furthermore, dehydration decreases the flow of oxygen and blood to the brain.
One recent report published in the Handbook of Clinical Neurology highlights the possible triggers of migraines and tension-type headaches, and dehydration is one of them.
Instead of reaching for a pill when suffering from a headache, drink a glass of water. If the headache is because of dehydration, it will go away soon.
- ‘Brain Fog’ or poor concentration
The human brain definitely shows signs when dehydrated because it is made up of approximately 90 percent water. Lack of water in the brain can influence your decision making, memory and mood.
Dehydration can be the reason for symptoms of brain fog, such as forgetfulness and difficulty focusing, thinking and communicating.
According to a 2013 study published in Clinical Autonomic Research dehydration is one of the most frequently reported brain-fog triggers, along with fatigue, lack of sleep, prolonged standing and feeling faint.
In a 2011 study published in the British Journal of Nutrition it was found that mildly dehydrated people performed worse on cognitive tasks and also reported difficulty making decisions. There were also adverse changes in mood states of fatigue and anxiety.
There is another 2011 study that was published in the Journal of Nutrition. According to this study, it is concluded that degraded mood, increased perception of task difficulty, lower concentration and headache symptoms resulted from a 1.36 percent dehydration in females.
- Bad Breath and dry mouth
Another sign that your body lacks water is bad breath. Your body produces less saliva because of lack of water. This leads to an excess growth of bacteria in the mouth, causing bad or stinky breath.
You can have a dry mouth along with bad breath. Water works like a lubricant, which keeps the mucus membranes moist in the throat, thus preventing dry mouth.
- Constipation and other digestive issues
Water aids in lubricating the digestive system and keeps the digestive tract flexible and clean. This helps keep your bowel movements regular and prevent constipation.
The stools can harden because of excessive fluid loss due to diarrhea or vomiting. Lack of water in the body can even cause heartburn and indigestion.
As per a 2003 study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, fluid loss and fluid restriction increase constipation. It is thus essential to maintain hydration to prevent constipation.
- Sudden food cravings
You should drink a glass of water before grabbing a snack the next time you have sudden hunger pangs or food cravings. When dehydrated, your body sends false signals to your brain that you are hungry, when actually you are thirsty.
Because of loss of water and electrolytes in the body, craving a salty treat can be caused. Simply drink a sports drink that consists of sodium, or you can make your own lemon water by mixing the juice of 1 lemon in a glass of water along with 1 teaspoon of salt.
When your body experiences difficulty with glycogen production, you can experience cravings for something sweet. You can choose fruits like watermelon, papaya or berries that are sweet as well as high in water content.
- Reduced urination and change in color
Believe it or not, but your body is probably lacking water if you are not using the restroom every few hours. A healthy amount of water intake results in regular urination, about four to seven times a day. Not urinating at regular intervals can be problematic because your body releases toxins through urination.
Also, you should keep an eye on the color of your urine. It is an essential symptom of your hydration level. Clear or light-colored urine means a well-hydrated body, while dark yellow or amber-colored urine indicates concentrated urine and is usually a symptom that your body lacks water.
- Fatigue and lethargy
If you are feeling fatigued and lethargic, it might be because of your dehydrated body. Lack of water can be the reason for low blood pressure and inadequate oxygen supply throughout the body, including the brain. Lack of oxygen causes sleepiness, fatigue and a lethargic feeling.
Additionally, when you are dehydrated, your body has to work much too hard to ensure proper blood circulation, transporting nutrients and even breathing. Expending extra energy makes you tired faster than usual.
One of the easiest ways to stay alert and energized is staying hydrated, so keep your water bottle handy.
- Joint and Muscle Pain
A vital component of healthy joints and cartilage is water. In fact, they consist of about 80 percent water. If your body lacks water, then your bones start grinding against each other, and causing pain in the joints.
If your body is well hydrated, then your joints can handle sudden movements, such as running, jumping or falling awkwardly, without any pain.
Depletion of fluids through perspiration can bring about muscles to contract, leading to cramps. A 2008 study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology shows that body water status is an essential consideration in modulating the hormonal and metabolic responses to resistance exercise.
- Scaly, dry skin and lips
Another indication that your body lacks water is dry skin that lacks elasticity. The skin requires a good amount of water to remain in good condition because it is the body’s largest organ.
A low water level is the reason for less sweating, which means the body is not able to wash away excess dirt and oil accumulated on the skin throughout the day. Furthermore, because water aids in flushing toxins from the body, dehydration increases the risk of acne, eczema and psoriasis.
Another indication of dehydration is dry and chapped lips.
Hence, along with moisturizing your skin with a good moisturizer, by drinking an adequate amount of water you have to make sure you are hydrating your skin from the inside out.
- Accelerated heartbeat
Dehydration has a direct influence on heart rate and performance. Making the blood more viscous dehydration causes a decrease in plasma volume.
According to a 2014 study published in the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research dehydration negatively impacts performance.
It was found that the heart rate changes in an average of three beats per minute for every 1 percent change in body weight resulting from dehydration.
Furthermore, dehydration causes modifications in electrolytes present in your body, leading to low blood pressure. Heart palpitations become faster because of extra stress on your body. This can be frightening and cause anxiety and panic. Try sipping water slowly if you feel your heart beating faster. Consult your doctor immediately if the problem persists.
Tips to prevent dehydration:
- You should drink plenty of water and other fluids every day. The amount of water you need to drink usually depends on a number of factors, such as the climate in which you live, how physically active you are, and your overall health.
- Start your day with a large glass of water (room temperature) and drink one full glass of water before every meal.
- When you are busy and often forget to drink water, you can set a reminder to drink a glass of water a few times a day.
- Carry your own water bottle, no matter where you are going.
- Along with water, start including water-rich fruits and vegetables in your diet.
- Try not to drink beverages that can cause dehydration, such as alcohol, energy drinks and others that contain caffeine.
- If you are suffering from a fever, vomiting or diarrhea, increase your fluid intake to prevent severe dehydration.
- You should consult your doctor immediately if you are having symptoms such as extreme thirst, dizziness, not passing urine for more than eight hours, and a rapid or weak pulse.