Dehydration- Are you missing the Warning Signs?

Monday, February 02, 2015

The body consists of approximately two thirds of water making it the most critical nutrient for health, growth and development. An average adult loses between 2-3 litres of fluid a day and unfortunately the body cannot store reserves so there is a need to continuously replenish this loss.

How much water you need to consume to avoid dehydration depends on factors such as the food you eat, your activity levels, metabolism and the weather. This makes it relatively easy to become dehydrated, but luckily there are plenty of warning signs!

Identifying these signs and starting treatment immediately is important as dehydration can progress from minor to severe in a short period of time.

Here are ten signs of dehydration you may miss:

1. Food cravings

Dehydration can disguise itself as hunger. Before you succumb to a food craving consider drinking a full glass of water. Common cravings to look out for include salt, sugar and caffeine.

2. Bad Breath

Meticulous with your oral hygiene but still experiencing bad breath? Dehydration can prevent your body from making enough saliva, drying out your mouth and causing a build up of bacteria.

3. Mood changes

We’ve all experienced the “hangry’s” at some point. A change in mood, lack of concentration or a sudden onset of irritation is not exclusive to a lack of food. Dehydration can also alter mood, energy and mental function.

4. Headache

When you lose fluid, essential salts such as potassium and sodium which change the chemical makeup of your blood are also lost. The brain is super sensitive to this change, triggering a headache. Headaches will get progressively worse if fluid is not replaced so before taking pain medication make sure you have a glass of water.

5. Yawning

Dehydration causes excessive tiredness and yawning is a tell-tale sign of fatigue.

6. Dry skin

If you notice your skin has become itchy or looks shrivelled it’s time to hydrate fast. When the body loses water, its ability to hydrate the skin is decreased and the tissue’s resistance changes. How can you test tissue resistance? Pinch your skin into a fold and if it doesn’t bounce back it’s a sign you may be dehydrated.

7. Constipation

Water helps move waste through the colon and out of the body. When we’re dehydrated the colon conserves the water it’s absorbed from food, making stools difficult to pass.

8. Changes in urine colour

If you suspect you may be dehydrated one of the first things to do is look at the colour of your urine. If you have not consumed enough water your urine will be over concentrated with waste resulting in a dark yellow colour.

9. Muscle fatigue

If you feel as though you have nothing left in the tank but you’ve only been exercising for a short period of time, dehydration may be the reason. Fluid loss causes a drop in blood volume, making the heart work faster to push oxygen to the muscles, resulting in a decrease in performance. Cramping is also a tell-tale sign that you need to hydrate.

10. You stop sweating

When you begin to overheat, your body temperature is lowered by sweating. This evaporative cooling system requires water. When you’re dehydrated the lack of water in your body will stop your ability to sweat resulting in extreme overheating. This makes you susceptible to heat stroke which is a serious condition that needs immediate medical attention.

The solution? Have that bottle of water handy and sip from it regularly throughout the course of your day!

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