Table of Content
- What is dehydration?
- Symptoms of Dehydration
- Test of Dehydration
- How to Prevent Dehydration
- How Does Water Affect Our Body?
Dehydration is often associated with summer and the weather, but drinking water is important regardless of the weather. Not drinking enough liquids each day is bad for the body, but can become increasingly difficult for the body to maintain its function. Dehydration can easily become a major problem. Continue reading to learn more about how to recognize dehydration and how to prevent it.
What is Dehydration?
Dehydration is a condition caused by the loss of too much water from the body. It happens when you lose more fluid than your body can take in. When that happens, a wide range of functions within your body, slow down causing higher energy exertion rates. Our bodies need water to carry out simple bodily functions such as moving fluids through the kidneys and the urethra. We use water in the flow of blood, and it is the main component of our cells. Water is the most important resource in aiding dehydration. H2O helps to lubricate joints, aid in digestion, and retain moisture in our blood, brain, and bones. Our digestive system needs water to break down food, is responsible for healthy bowel movements, and filters water through the kidneys. Our bodies use water to regulate temperature, in terms of homeostasis and sweating when too hot. During dehydration, most of the water in our bodies can be discarded as sweat. Hence, Excessive sweating can play a factor in dehydration.
Symptoms of Dehydration
Symptoms of dehydration may vary from mild to severe and include dry mouth and tongue, sunken eyes, irritability, fatigue, confusion, dark urine, extreme thirst and infrequent urination. If dehydration is severe enough, it can result in exertional heat stroke.
When you are suffering from dehydration, your blood becomes more concentrated. When this happens, your heart rate increases to maintain your blood pressure. Your kidneys start retaining water, causing you to excrete less urine. Less water in your system affects your ability to regulate temperature which can lead to hyperthermia (increased body temperature). Also, decreased fluid levels in your brain, affect your mood, memory, and coordination. Mild to moderate dehydration can be reversed by drinking more fluids, but severe dehydration needs immediate medical treatment.
Test for Dehydration
You can test your hydration levels with a skin test. The skin elasticity or turgor test is a popular and simple measurement of your skin’s elasticity. This skin test works best in children and younger adults. The way to do the skin elasticity test is to lightly pinch your skin, usually on your arm or abdomen. If your skin takes longer than usual to spring back, this could be a sign of dehydration. While this test is not very precise, testing your skin turgor is painless and noninvasive.
Keep in mind, as you age your skin loses elasticity, causing poor skin turgor. As a result of this, an elderly person’s skin may take up to 20 seconds to return to normal, even if they aren’t dehydrated.
How to Prevent Dehydration
There is no exact agreed-upon amount of water you should be drinking per day, the amount of water you should be drinking depends on a lot of factors. Some of these factors include your age, weight, the climate you live in, how active you are, if you are sick, or have any health problems.
The USDA recommends that the average, healthy adult living in a temperate climate needs:
- Males need 3.7 liters per day (About 1 gallon)
- Women need 2.7 liters per day (About 0.75 gallons)
This water recommendation covers total fluid intake from water, other beverages, and food. About 20% of your daily fluid intake will come from food. This water consumption recommendation is an average and does not take into consideration other external factors like:
- Overall health
How does Water Affect our Bodies?
Our bodies are comprised of about 50-65% water. This water is found in our organs, tissues, blood, and intracellular space. It keeps our tissues lubricated, joints and muscles moving, and helps to keep our blood flowing. Water assists in our metabolism, boosts our immune system, and lubricates our eyes. It’s extremely important to stay hydrated throughout the day. Our bodies lose water through digestion, sweating, and even breathing to name a few. When you have fully hydrated your body, it functions better. Some benefits of drinking water include an increase in happiness, a strong heart, and good skin.
Water protects your joints and tissues. It helps keeps your organs and the tissues in your body moist. Keeping your body hydrated helps retain high levels of moisture in these areas, as well as in your brain, bones, joints, and blood. The disks in your spine and cartilage found in your joints contain around 80% water. Long periods of dehydration can reduce the joint’s shock-absorbing ability, which leads to joint pain.