We say the body suffers from dehydration when it lacks enough water. Our body is made up of close to 60 % water and it is an important element for bodily functions like breathing, for digestion and infact close to all of the basic bodily activities . Dehydration usually occurs when so much water is lost without replacement or when little water is drunk. Water is lost in a lot of ways, these include urine, vomiting, diarrhea, sweating, fever etc.
Unfortunately, it could be difficult to know when your body is suffering from a dehydration, unlike when you’re hungry and you feel it because your tummy protests. With dehydration signs, they’re usually so subtle, you could miss it. The terrible part is dehydration is serious and could threaten your life. It’s awfully dangerous to have no idea when you’re dehydrated.
This article has therefore been written to help you identify these subtle symptoms and do something about them. You could have dehydration symptoms even with the slightest water loss of 1%. Let’s find out what these signs are.
SIGNS OF DEHYDRATION
When your body lacks water, it may reflect in the smell of your breath. You see, the saliva produced in the mouth possesses antibacterial properties which help to curb the presence of bacteria in the mouth. When the body lacks water however, enough saliva ceases to be produced. With the reduced production of saliva, bacterial growth occurs unchecked and an overgrowth likely results. An overgrowth of bacteria in the mouth could cause bad breath. Apart from bad breath, the mouth would also be dry. The mouth could be hydrated by drinking a lot of water and also brushing your teeth.
YOU’RE ALWAYS SO THIRSTY AND HUNGRY
With lack of water in the body, the electrolyte concentration is affected. The electrolytes are minerals electrically charged which help in nerve signaling to support a lot of metabolic processes that occur in the body. When the body is dehydrated, the kidneys which are in charge of blood moderation and volume of urine respond in thirst. This is triggered by the hypothalamus of the brain and you’re eventually led to find water and meet the needs of the kidneys. This goes to say that when you get thirsty, it’s your body reacting to the dehydration. However, this doesn’t mean if you don’t get thirsty, you are not dehydrated. This could be misleading and cause damage. That’s why it was said how subtle dehydration symptoms can be.
This is another subtle way dehydration presents itself. Sometimes you would go for dozens of aspirin when all you need is a glass of water (or ten). The slightest dehydration can cause a headache or worse, a migraine. A study carried out showed that women who were just 1.37% dehydrated ended up developing headaches. The blood pressure reduces with the reduction of water in the body. It could be that this is what causes a headache, so you could be raising your blood pressure and as a consequence easing the bang in your head by taking enough water. It could also be from the thinning of the fluid sac in which the brain sits and the discomfort that follows, like the brain bumping against the skull. Since it’s unclear what about dehydration triggers a headache, simply drink as much water as you can throughout the day and at night.
The kidneys are one of the organs most sensitive to dehydration as a result of its function. One of its functions is dispelling toxic wastes from the body. When it comes to urine, with little water, the kidney isn’t left with much option than to hold on to the available water while trying to do its job. So it ends up dispelling urine but a concentrated one as so much water is held back by the urine. Urination is also infrequent, still because the kidney tries to hold on to the water. This urine usually appears darker and might have a concentrated bad smell too. With light urine, we know that you are not dehydrated. If you notice blood in your pee, then it is advised that you stop exercising immediately. It is also possible for someone to be over-hydrated, you’ll notice this if the urine is perfectly clear.
When your skin is hydrated, it is supple and has a glow that you might not place. When it loses water however, or doesn’t get enough water, it lacks its glow and elasticity and it might appear dull too. This is a result of a decrease in the volume of blood in circulation. Blood volume helps in the hydration of the skin cells, so the skin dries up with little water. You would hardly sweat too as the body is holding onto as much fluid as it can. At first though, you might begin to sweat a lot, sweating reduces when your dehydration gets severe. A theory by Goldberg suggests that if you pinch your skin with your thumb and index finger and then release it, it is dehydrated if it takes more time to get straightened back onto the skin.
FOOD CRAVINGS, ESPECIALLY FOR SUGAR
Apart from the kidney, other organs like the liver also need water to function properly. When the body is dehydrated, the liver could find it a lot more difficult to release glycogen and other stores of energy. This could lead to cravings for food, especially sugary foods. It could be sweets, a salty snack, cakes, chocolates etc as the body could be having problems with glycogen break down to release glucose so it could be absorbed into the bloodstream for fuel. The sweets are the quickest way the body finds to replenish the energy stores, so the body lets out a cry in form of cravings.
Sometimes, the body could mistake feelings of thirst for hunger, and you’ll begin to feel hungry and get food cravings when you need water in the real sense. So when you experience these cravings, your body could be saying, “water! “, all you have to do is simply grab a glass of water.
EXHAUSTION AND SLEEPINESS
The body is a wonderful thing, especially the brain. When it’s low on water, your brain senses the off situation and sends a message to the body instructing it to reduce its activities to avoid losing more water through sweating and other bodily functions. The body generally needs enough water to carry out its daily activities, so it could begin to slow down and reduce its efficiency so as to preserve energy and the water it has when there’s not much water available. This could be the reason you feel exhausted even when you rest. In a study, men subjected to dehydration reported the exhaustion, fatigue and lethargy they experienced. These happen as a result of a reduction in blood pressure which as we have seen before, could result from dehydration. So if you feel exhausted even without haven done anything, here’s your cue, go get some water.
Dehydration, in most cases could be treated just by drinking water. If nothing happens after the water treatment, then you should see a doctor as your problem could be an illness or as a result of medication.
You should know your dehydration is severe if:
Your stomach cramps up
You get seizures or faint
You get a heatstroke
You have a low blood pressure
Get immediate medical attention if you notice these symptoms.