To put it simply, when the amount of water you’re losing exceeds the amount that you’re taking in, dehydration may occur. If you don’t replace these lost fluids, your body will be unable to perform its normal functions. With the summer heat in full force throughout the states, it’s more important than ever to keep a handle on it. Dehydration has some pretty obvious signs; however, there are more hidden ones that most may not be aware of.
Dehydration Effects On Your Body
Today we’re going to discuss dehydration causes, signs (the common and the not so common), as well as tips and preventative measures. Now, let’s jump into the proverbial pool!
Causes of dehydration
First and foremost, let’s get the causes of dehydration out of the way. Understanding how and why it occurs will give us a better grasp of dehydration as a whole. There’s a high probability that we will all feel a mild form of dehydration at some point in our lives. However, moderate to severe dehydration should be avoided due to its potentially extreme complications.
Some of the most common causes include excessive sweating and urination, medications, vomiting and/or diarrhea, and fever. Some may not know that vomiting and diarrhea are actually the most common causes, as well as the most lethal. During these processes, the body loses a significant amount of water and electrolytes in an incredibly short window of time. It’s imperative to stay hydrated if you’re experiencing either. Excessive sweating (the body’s cooling mechanism) and frequent urination (often caused by diabetes) are other known causes. Finally, certain medications, such as diuretics and antipsychotics, can cause increased urination, which can lead to dehydration.
Some risk factors that may lead to dehydration include living in higher altitudes and chronic illness. Additionally, older individuals and young infants are the most likely to become dehydrated. If you’re in these categories or experiencing any of these regularly, it may be time to up the water intake.
Signs: the common and not so common
Dispatch Health lists symptoms like extreme thirst, dark urine, dizziness, fatigue, headaches, confusion, and nausea as some of the most common to watch out for. But what about the not-so-common ones? It may be beneficial to know these as well. Everyday Health brings to light some of these more surprising signs. These include bad breath, dry or flushed skin, muscle cramps, fever, chills, a sweet tooth or other food cravings, and headaches. If you’re undergoing any of these signs or symptoms, it may be time to drink up.
Additional Reading: Signs of Dehydration in Infants & Children
Severe dehydration can lead to severe complications. Let’s talk about them. According to MayoClinic, serious complications include heat injury, urinary and kidney problems, seizures, and low blood volume shock. A heat injury can range from mild cramps to heat exhaustion (and even heat stroke). If you’re exercising vigorously without consuming adequate fluids, this is a high possibility. If the dehydration is prolonged or keeps happening, it can target your kidney and/or urinary tract. This can manifest as an infection, kidney stones, or even kidney failure.
When electrolytes are imbalanced, electrical messages become scattered. Electrolytes carry electrical signals from cell to cell. If they become unbalanced, it can lead to seizures and muscle contractions. Finally, hypovolemic shock (low blood volume shock) is the most lethal of complications. MayoClinic states, “it occurs when low blood volume causes a drop in blood pressure and a drop in the amount of oxygen in your body.”
Tips and prevention
We can’t glance over the causes, the signs, and the extreme complications without also discussing ways to prevent dehydration. So let’s dive in. If you’re exercising outdoors in the heat, make sure you’re hydrating before, during, and after your workout. Make sure to monitor the color of your urine if you suspect you may be dehydrated. Keeping a water bottle on you at all times will remind you to sip throughout the day. Finally, eat your water. Consuming plenty of greens, fruits, veggies, and other hydrating foods will mean you won’t have to be so attached to that water bottle. If you’re aware of these causes, signs, symptoms, complications, and tips for prevention, dehydration should be avoidable.
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