We all know that it’s vitally important to drink eight (approximately — all bodies are different) glasses of water a day and doing so is easier said than done. But if you’re not drinking enough water on a regular basis, quite a few concerning things can happen to your body when you’re constantly dehydrated.
"Dehydration occurs when you use or lose more fluid than you take in, and your body doesn't have enough water and other fluids to carry out its normal functions," the Mayo Clinic explains. "If you don't replace lost fluids, you will get dehydrated."
This loss of fluid can happen rapidly, like when you sweat while exercising, or it can happen gradually when you don’t take in enough water over a long period of time. Chronic dehydration sets in when your body is constantly lacking necessary fluids. Your body will actually become used to this dehydrated state, as Rodale Wellness claims, and you’ll lose sensitivity to water deprivation, and therefore you won’t feel as thirsty even though your body needs more water.
Chronic dehydration is not as severe as extreme dehydration and won’t cause you to faint or spike a fever. But long-lasting dehydration can poorly affect your quality of life. So pour yourself a tall glass of water and continue reading to see if you need to up your H2O intake.
When we lose fluids through sweat, frequent urination, diarrhea or vomiting, they need to be replaced so our blood stays thin and fluid. When fluids are not replaced, the blood becomes thick and the heart has to work harder to deliver oxygen to major organs.
According to FatigueAnswers.com, the body ends up having to direct blood to working muscles rather than the skin, and the body is unable to diffuse heat. The internal heat of the body is what makes us feel tired and sluggish. It can also cause brain fog and headaches. Don’t make your body work harder than it has to!
2. Dry skin.
One of the most effective ways to tell if you’re suffering from chronic dehydration is to take a look at your skin. If it’s flaky, cracked, dull and dry all the time, you most likely need to start drinking more water.
AssociatesMD Medical Group notes that dry skin and dehydrated skin are not the same thing. If you skin is just dry normally, then there’s nothing to really worry about. But if your skin appears to be abnormally dry, then your skin cells — and other organs — aren’t getting enough water and it’s time to drink up!
Just like the rest of our body, our poop is mainly composed of water. When your stool moves to the colon, reabsorption of water from the stool takes place. But when the body is dehydrated, the colon absorbs more water than it has to, diminishing the bulk of the stools stored in the colon. That means it takes a lot longer for the stool to move through the colon.
Yes this is all gross, but it’s necessary to recognize constipation caused by dehydration. If you’re constipated for too long, excess bacteria begins to form in the colon. When left there, the colon can reabsorb the bacteria and waste that your body is trying to get rid of in the first place! Get that stuff out of there by drinking more water!
4. Muscle cramps.
Exercising and sweating without replacing lost fluids is a recipe for disaster. As mentioned earlier, the blood has to take fluids from other parts of the body when water isn’t introduced back into the system. This makes the blood thicker and the body less likely to function correctly.
Slow moving blood may not be able to reach muscles in time, therefore causing cramps. The Mayo Clinic notes that athletes who participate in warm-weather sports should be extra careful about drinking enough water because they are most at risk for dehydration.
5. Infrequent urination and kidney stones.
The less water you drink, the less you pee. The less you pee, the more likely you are to give yourself kidney stones. A kidney stones is a buildup of minerals in the urine, caused by dehydration and accelerated by caffeine and sodium intake.
Kidney stones are painful to pass and can only be prevented by changing one’s diet. Dr. David Ludlow, a urological surgeon at Urology Specialists of Nevada, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal, that drinking the average 8 cups of water per day is the best way to combat kidney stones.
"The easiest thing to do is the eyeball test," Dr. Ludlow states. "If your urine is clear, you are OK. But if it is dark, then increase your water intake.”
6. Dry mouth and bad breath.
According to Dr. John Higgins, who spoke to Everyday Health, when you’re constantly dehydrated, your mouth isn’t producing enough saliva. Your saliva has antibacterial properties and can kill bad breath germs when you’re hydrated and healthy.
"If you’re not producing enough saliva in the mouth, you can get bacteria overgrowth and one of the side reactions of that is bad breath from chronic dehydration," Dr. Higgins says.
7. Liver, kidney and bowel disfunction.
Not drinking enough water can cause your organs to malfunction or not function at all. Liversupport.com states that dehydration causes toxins to build up in the body due to infrequent urination and those toxins are what hinder organ function.
The website explains that the liver’s job is to filter out toxins in the blood. But if the person is dehydrated and the blood is too thick, then the liver is not able to filter properly, which can cause huge problems down the line. Unless you have preexisting liver-related medical issues, you’ll experience less severe symptoms of dehydration before liver, kidney, or bowel failure.
Always check the color of your urine to see how hydrated you are — the lighter the color the better. And if you’re feeling constipated, have a couple cups of water to help move things through your system.
Dr. Higgins says that when you’re dehydrated, some organs like the liver cannot absorb enough water to release glycogens and other parts of your energy stores, which makes you crave food and feel hungry. What’s worse is that the foods you crave when dehydrated are often filled with sodium or caffeine that can make dehydration worse.
If you are craving certain foods, reach for fruits and veggies that have high water content levels. Or simply drink a glass of water and see how you feel afterwards. Your body might simply be craving water.
If these symptoms sound familiar, we recommend you keep a water bottle with you at all times and continually sip throughout the day. Luckily, the only medication (usually) you’ll need to fix chronic dehydration is water! Cheap, easy, and all-natural!