Taking care of your health isn’t just about getting adequate physical activity, nutritious food, and ample rest. The amount of water you drink every day plays a vital role in staying healthy. Keeping the body hydrated is crucial because our system functions better when it’s not dehydrated. It’s critical to understand what causes dehydration and how it can affect your body.
What Causes Dehydration?
Dehydration happens when the human body doesn’t take in enough water to replace what’s naturally lost during normal body functions. While it’s natural for the body to lose liquids during the day, prolonged dehydration can result in many complications.
Although many factors cause a person to become dehydrated, the following are the main reasons it occurs:
The most common cause of dehydration-related deaths is diarrhea. Prolonged diarrhea causes you to lose water quickly, which can make you feel weak and lethargic. People with frequent diarrhea should contact their doctor immediately and report any changes in their bowel habits. Diarrhea treatment can be as simple as drinking more water. In more severe cases diarrhea treatment needs medical help.
The body is designed to cool itself through sweating. Although perspiration is a normal body process, you can lose a lot of fluid when you sweat excessively because of physical activity or staying in a warm environment.
When your body temperature rises above the average, you may be losing water without even knowing it. Fever is a common symptom of several different illnesses. If you have a fever, your body may not be able to cool itself adequately, and your body can become dehydrated.
Some health conditions, like diabetes, can promote increased urination. However, dehydration can also be caused by drinking too much soda, caffeine, or alcohol. These beverages will make you urinate more frequently. It’s better to consume fruit juices, cold milk, or plain water to stay hydrated.
The main cause of vomiting is a change in eating habits or food consumption that causes nausea. People who have vomiting attacks need to replace the fluids in their bodies immediately.
Different types of conditions can indicate dehydration. Common symptoms of dehydration include cramping, headache, and weakness. Prolonged dehydration may also result in life-threatening conditions that require immediate medical attention.
Related: How to Stay Hydrated During Summers
How Dehydration Affects the Body
Without enough water, you could suffer severe health complications. When the body loses too much water, these complications start to occur. It is not just organs that will suffer—the muscles and tissues of the body can also be affected. If the entire body is deprived of adequate fluids, the result is that several bodily functions can become temporarily or permanently impaired. The following conditions, or dehydration symptoms, are signs that your body is not getting enough water:
Muscle cramps may occur during moderate to extreme dehydration. You may find it difficult to stand, move, or do your regular physical activities. Don’t wait to seek medical care—if your muscle cramps continue for more than two days, you must see a doctor in order to prevent further injury.
Another dehydration reaction is dizziness where you may start to feel lightheaded when your body requires water. As your body becomes dehydrated, your blood pressure will begin to drop, which in turn makes you dizzy or lightheaded. Lack of fluids can also lead to unconsciousness, which is an indication of extreme fluid loss. If this happens, the person should be transferred to an emergency medical facility for rehydration treatment.
If you’re suffering from frequent headaches, you may want to increase your water intake. You may experience a dull headache to a more intense migraine when you’re dehydrated. Dehydration headache is a condition that may be resolved by drinking more water and staying away from beverages that contain caffeine or alcohol.
Fatigue and weakness are indications that the body is failing to cope with dehydration. Water is essential in regulating your body’s temperature and delivering vital nutrients to your system. Lack of water can result in muscle deterioration, making you more susceptible to injuries. Weak muscles can also lead to weak vision, impaired hearing, and decreased balance, resulting in an accident or a fall. In older individuals, dehydration can cause lightheadedness, lethargy, and confusion.
If the dehydration continues, it can lead to more severe conditions. One such dehydration reaction is kidney failure. A person with severe dehydration will experience a decline in their kidney function. When a person experiences kidney failure, the kidneys will not work at full capacity, which can result in the buildup of toxins in the body and, eventually, death. That’s why it’s critical to drink adequate amounts of water regularly.
Rapid or excessive loss of fluid forces the brain to compensate by lowering your body temperature, which can induce problems like seizures. Other severe consequences include shock, comas, and death. If you or a loved one suffer from severe dehydration, you should seek emergency medical attention.
Dehydration can be treated in many ways. Mild dehydration may be treated by ceasing all physical activity, moving to a cooler environment, and increasing fluid intake. Some of the ways to treat dehydration include drinking cold liquids and sports drinks that may help improve the body’s electrolyte balance.
The recommended daily fluid intake is more than eight glasses per day. It’s best to drink plain water instead of sugary beverages like soda or fruit juice. Take note, however, that drinking too much liquid can also have repercussions. Overhydration can cause hyponatremia, a condition where the body’s sodium and electrolytes become too diluted.
If you want to prevent dehydration, follow these practical tips to avoid the symptoms and health complications:
- Drinking smaller amounts of fluids throughout the day to maintain consistent hydration.
- Always keep a water bottle close by so you can rehydrate yourself when you’re thirsty.
- Install apps on your smartphone to help you keep track of your daily water intake.
Dehydration is a problem that can have serious health consequences. While mild dehydration symptoms may not seem dangerous, severe dehydration can lead to medical issues like seizures, coma, and death if left untreated. Therefore, if you believe you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, it is best to consult a doctor immediately.