We say dehydration has taken place when the body does not have as much water as it needs to function properly. This usually occurs in two levels: mild and severe. In cases of mild dehydration, you may feel uncomfortable while in severe dehydration cases, the blood clots, you could get seizures and other complications could result.
Severe cases of dehydration should be given immediate medical attention but mild cases of dehydration could adversely affect your energy and mood.
That being said, it’s therefore necessary to identify the signs of dehydration on time. You will need some help as it will not always be as obvious as just feeling thirsty.
The saliva possesses antibacterial properties and is thus able to prevent the overgrowth of bacteria. When you’re dehydrated, however, saliva is not produced as much and this could lead to an overgrowth of bacteria. The resultant effect is a breath that stinks.
In mild stages of dehydration, it is true that one of the symptoms is that you’re excessively sweaty. However, as it progresses, the skin may get dryer and appear flushed too. You know you’re dehydrated if your skin is tented after you pinch it and takes some time to go back to normal.
There are a lot of reasons muscle cramps could occur, being dehydrated is one of them. It is particularly common in hot weathers as the muscles are affected by heat. As the muscles keep working hard, they will often seize up from the heat. Changes in the electrolytes like potassium and sodium could also contribute to muscle cramping as well. This in no way means that dehydration is only restricted to hot weathers- it could also occur in cold weathers when you have not had enough to drink (water, please). Even though the symptoms maybe milder in cold weathers, the risk remains the same, regardless of the weather.
Fever and Chills
You will sometimes experience chills and fever which could in turn worsen your dehydration- this means that the higher the fever, the worse the dehydration becomes. This dehydration fever often occurs when there has not been enough intake of fluid or when there is so much fluid loss as a result of vomiting or diarrhoea. If your fever becomes severe, you should seek medical attention.
Food Cravings, Especially for Sweets
When the body is low on water, it could get difficult for the liver to keep producing glycogen and other energy store components. This will often get you to crave for food. These cravings could be of any kind but will mostly be for sweets. This is because the body could be finding it difficult to break down glycogen and release glucose into the bloodstream for fuel. Your cravings for sweet food is your body crying out for glucose for energy.
The body will also sometimes mix up feelings of thirst with hunger. This will often cause you to feel hungry when in truth, you’re actually thirsty.
You will often get a headache even in cases of mild dehydration. Even though it’s not exactly clear what the link between headaches and dehydration is, still, you should drink enough water if you get a headache- you’ll notice that the pain is eased after a while.
If you get thirsty, then your body is already dehydrated. However, these two ways can be used to check if you’re dehydrated
Try this skin test: Using two fingers, pinch some of your skin and watch how it reacts. If it immediately goes back to its normal position, then you’re good to go. If it takes a couple of seconds to get back to normal, then you might be dehydrated.
Check your urine: If your urine is clear(the colour of lemonade), then you’re hydrated. However, if you notice that your urine has a dark yellow or orange colour, then you’re most likely dehydrated.
Tips for Staying Hydrated
When it comes down to staying hydrated, it is recommended that you get at least 2.7 litres of water daily ( twelve cups roughly) and 3.7 litres ( fifteen cups roughly) for women and men respectively.
Below are a few tips to keep in mind to avoid getting dehydrated:
Keep a water bottle handy
When you have a water bottle close to you, chances are you’ll always sip from it from time to time unconsciously
Spice up plain water
If plain water is just so “boring” for you, then you could try making it a lot more interesting by adding chunks of fruits or a splash of fruit juice. This should make it a lot more appealing to drink.
Try different teas
Sipping unsweetened, fruity or iced tea will help you achieve your hydration goals easily. You could try out teas like chamomile tea or peppermint tea.
Replace your snacks
If you’ve been taking snacks with low water content, it might be time to switch things up a bit. For example, you could replace snacks like chips and crackers with celery and peanut butter, healthy smoothies, yoghurt, frozen fruits, veggies with hummus.
Pile on the produce
Set out go eat more of fruits and vegetables as not only are they rich in minerals, vitamins and fibers- they have a rich water content. As a matter of fact, most fruits and vegetables are ninety percent water. These include tomatoes, bell peppers, lettuce, celery, strawberries etc.
Sip more fluids during meals
Try to sip more fluids while eating. Water or fruit juices should do.
Dehydration in the Elderly
People who are advanced in age are more at risk of getting dehydrated as a result of several reasons.
Some aged people could get severely dehydrated if they take medications like diuretics, are unable to get water themselves, forget to drink because of a memory loss or have a diminished sense of thirst. When an elderly person gets severely dehydrated, it could lead to low blood pressure, constipation, confusion and dizziness
It is important to monitor any elderly person around you for signs of dehydration. Be sure to keep them hydrated too.