Dehydration 101: What It Is, How to Recognize It, and How to Avoid It

Did you know that 75% of us are chronically dehydrated? Though you may not link it to a headache, fatigue or mood changes, dehydration often can be the cause. This is why it is important to recognize the symptoms of this fluid loss and ways to prevent it.

Signs of Dehydration

  • Fatigue–You may feel more exhausted than normal. This is due to loss of those fluids because your cells need water to perform their normal activities.
  • Dark-colored urine and low urine output–Dark urine and fewer trips to the bathroom can be clues that your body is crying out for more fluids. The reason for this color change is because the body is releasing the urine in concentrated form, trying to retain its water.
  • Dry skin, reduced skin elasticity, and cracked lips– Your skin and lips may become drier and shows more signs of aging from wrinkling, sagging to painful irritated lips. This happens because that needed water is being lost through evaporation and sweating when it should be replaced.
  • Confusion, dizziness, and headache– Without enough liquid in your system, the body can’t function as it should to send the blood and oxygen to the brain, resulting in those types of problems.
  • Mood changes– Lack of enough water also could account for being more irritable, nervous or just sad because of how its depletion could alter brain chemistry and hormones.
  • Memory and concentration – If you suddenly are having difficulty staying focused or remembering, loss of fluid could be the culprit. The reason behind it is without that water, the blood and oxygen to the brain for proper cognitive function will not flow like normal.
  • Cravings – Sometimes, you long for a particular food such as a sweet or something salty like chips. You might shrug that craving off as the reason that you need that food. However, it also could be your body misinterpreting the craving for hunger as it tries to get more water from those foods.
  • Lack of motivation – When you lose interest in activities or creativity, then dehydration could explain it. The reason is the brain needs that water to produce dopamine and serotonin for those neurotransmitters to work at their optimal best. Otherwise, your mood and that creative spark suffer.

How to Measure Your Hydration Levels

The first thing that may give you an indication is by checking the color and amount of your urine. The darker the color or urinating less, the greater your water loss problem is. Normal urine should be pale yellow and clear, not dark or cloudy. Furthermore, the frequency should be anywhere from four to six times a day for normal urination.

Another suggestion is to give your skin a pinch on the back of your hand to test for elasticity. This way you can determine how quickly or slowly the skin returns to normal. If the skin responds quickly, then you are in good shape with water. However, if the skin takes a while longer to plump back, then you are dehydrated.

What to Do to Prevent and Treat Dehydration

The ideal preventive measure is to drink enough fluids daily, especially water. However, what needs to be taken into consideration is your age, weight, health condition, and activity level. The general consensus is eight glasses of water a day for healthy individuals. On the other hand, others may need to restrict the amount of water such as those with heart problems due to diuretic medications so do keep this in mind.

One of the easiest things to stay hydrated is to carry a bottle of water with you. This way you can keep track of the amount that you drink.

If you’re exercising or doing physical work, then remember that your body is losing water from sweating. It is important to restore that water by drinking more in order to avoid this problem.

Drink more water when it’s hot outside or ill because the body loses more of it under those circumstances. This is something some people tend to neglect.

Coffee, tea, soda, and alcohol may taste great, but they also rob the body of water because they act as diuretics, which draws liquids out. Therefore, you need to drink more water to compensate. Otherwise, you can run into problems.

Dehydration is not something you want to experience. Nonetheless, it is a common and serious condition that can affect your health and well-being. This post is not meant to diagnose a medical problem because only your doctor can do that, but it is only to provide helpful information. By knowing the signs and symptoms of dehydration, and following the tips on how to prevent and treat it, you can stay hydrated and healthy. Have you ever experienced it? How did you cope with it? Let me know in the comments below. And if you liked this post, please share it with your friends and family, and don’t forget to come back to my blog for more.

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