Hydration is a hot topic during the summer months, but it doesn’t end there. It’s crucial to stay hydrated every single day. Exercise, vomiting, diarrhea, and fever call for more H2O, but when 60 percent of the body is made of water, it should always be on your mind. How else will you function?
Without enough, the body can’t properly regulate temperature or flush out toxins.1 It also can’t lubricate joints, protect your spinal cord, and pass bowel movements.2 You’d literally be nothing without it!
That’s why knowing the signs of dehydration is critical. Mild symptoms of are easy to miss, because they can be linked to other factors. Yet, if dehydration builds up, it can be life-threatening.
Daily life will also be downright uncomfortable. Not sure if you’re secretly dehydrated? Keep an eye out for these 7 sneaky symptoms.
1. Dry Mouth
2. Cool Skin
Sweating is your body’s way of cooling down. But when you sweat buckets and don’t replace fluids, your blood volume will drop. In turn, the body can’t maintain a comfortable temperature, leading to cool skin even though you feel hot.4
3. Less Urinating
What goes in must come out. If you’re not well-hydrated, urinating will be a rare occurence. And when you do pee? It’ll be dark, yellow, and smelly.5
4. Muscle Cramps
When it comes to muscle cramps and spasms, blame low electrolytes. These minerals control both fluid levels and muscle function! Dehydration severely reduces electrolytes, causing muscles to spazz out.6
The brain needs water, too! Without enough, mood-regulating neurons in the hypothalamus act up, leading to irritability and fatigue. A 2012 study in The Journal of Nutrition even found that all it takes is mild dehydration to cause problems.7
Those clever neurons don’t just mess with mood. When dehydration sets in, they can’t work as well to support concentration and focus.8 Mild dehydration also disrupts memory, psychomotor skills, and attention.9 The simplest tasks will feel like a mission.
When you’re water deprived, the blood thins and out causes inflammation. This explains why dehydration is a well-known cause of headaches and migraine triggers.10 On top of the cloudiness, your brain will feel like a million pounds.
Of Severe Dehydration
If you’re not careful, mild-to-moderate dehydration can become life-threatening. Call 911 ASAP if you or someone you know experiences one of the following symptoms:
- Total lack of urination
- Dry and shriveled skin
- Rapid heartbeat
- Rapid breathing
- Dizziness, light-headedness
- Irritability, confusion
- Sunken eyes
Best Drinks For Hydration
Water is always the top choice for staying hydrated. But if you want to switch things up, infuse water with fruits and herbs for added flavor. Coconut water, homemade fruit juice, and tea will also up your water intake.
As for sports beverages? Choose one that contains 5 to 8 percent carbohydrate with electrolytes, 20-30 meq/L of sodium, and 2-5 meq/L of potassium. Steer clear from drinks with added sugar.12
|↑1||Nutrition Basics. WomensHealth.gov, Office on Women’s Health.|
|↑2||Water & Nutrition. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.|
|↑3||Dehydration. MedlinePlus, U.S. National Library of Medicine.|
|↑4||Popkin, Barry M., Kristen E. D’anci, and Irwin H. Rosenberg. “Water, hydration, and health.” Nutrition reviews 68, no. 8 (2010): 439-458.|
|↑6||Electrolytes. MedlinePlus, U.S. National Library of Medicine.|
|↑7, ↑8||Armstrong, Lawrence E., Matthew S. Ganio, Douglas J. Casa, Elaine C. Lee, Brendon P. McDermott, Jennifer F. Klau, Liliana Jimenez, Laurent Le Bellego, Emmanuel Chevillotte, and Harris R. Lieberman. “Mild dehydration affects mood in healthy young women.” The Journal of nutrition 142, no. 2 (2012): 382-388.|
|↑9||Adan, Ana. “Cognitive performance and dehydration.” Journal of the American College of Nutrition 31, no. 2 (2012): 71-78.|
|↑10||Popkin, Barry M., Kristen E. D’anci, and Irwin H. Rosenberg. “Water, hydration, and health.” Nutrition reviews 68, no. 8 (2010): 439-458.|
|↑11||Dehydration. MedlinePlus, U.S. National Library of Medicine.|
|↑12||Sawka, Michael N., Louise M. Burke, E. Randy Eichner, Ronald J. Maughan, Scott J. Montain, and Nina S. Stachenfeld. “American College of Sports Medicine position stand. Exercise and fluid replacement.” Medicine and science in sports and exercise 39, no. 2 (2007): 377-390.|