20 Signs You Aren’t Drinking Enough Water by Janice Taylor
The human body has a built-in mechanism for telling us when we need to drink water – the feeling of being thirsty. Unfortunately, with an alarming two out of three individuals living with some form of chronic dehydration, many people have simply become numb to the sensation. If you are among the majority and have an ongoing water deficit, there are some other less-obvious signals which indicate that your body is parched.
Read over the following 20 common symptoms of chronic dehydration. If any of them apply to your day-to-day life, it could be that your body is trying to warn you that you’re not drinking nearly enough water.
- Chronic Fatigue
Blood and other bodily fluids are comprised mainly of water. When you get dehydrated, your blood becomes thicker and your heart has to expend more energy to keep oxygen and nutrients moving throughout the circulatory system. If you feel tired every day and there doesn’t seem to be a cause, drinking more water could be the solution.
- Cholesterol Imbalance
Dehydration signals your body to increase its production of cholesterol in order to thicken cellular walls and preserve the fluid contained in them. As a result of this defensive process, blood-cholesterol levels also increase and can easily become imbalanced.
- High or Low Blood Pressure
The decrease in overall blood volume caused by dehydration may manifest as consistently low blood pressure. Over time, the increase in blood-cholesterol can cause arterial build-up and eventually plaques which increase blood pressure to potentially unsafe levels.
- Impaired Memory and Concentration
Slackened blood flow caused by chronic dehydration robs your brain of the oxygen and nutrients it needs to perform at peak capacity. As a result, you may find that your memory and concentration become severely impaired.
- Light-Headedness, Dizziness or Vertigo
Living in a constant state of dehydration can cause you to experience frequent dizzy spells and light-headedness due to lack of blood flow and oxygen to the brain. In severe cases, vertigo and nausea may result.
- Frequent Headaches
Both lack of oxygen and increase in blood pressure are the perfect recipe for frequent headaches. If you notice that you seem to be getting them more often, try drinking more water on a daily basis to ease the strain on your brain.
- Mood Swings or Irritability
Just as is characteristic of being hungry, the need for water tends to make people unusually moody and more easily irritated. Also, with all of the other possible negative effects on your brain and other organs, chronic dehydration can throw of your hormone balance and cause persistent depression, anxiety and other mood disorders.
- Stomach Pain or Ulcers
Water acts as a buffer between the acidic contents of your stomach and the stomach lining. Being in a state of constant dehydration leaves the inside of your stomach largely unprotected and the constant acid exposure can easily result in ulcers or frequent stomach aches.
- Constipation or Poor Digestion
In order to properly process the foods you eat, your intestines need a steady supply of water. Without adequate fluids, digestion can slow down causing constipation, gas and bloating, or even the passing of seemingly undigested food.
- Craving Sweet or Salty Foods
Your liver requires water in order to break down fat cells and use the energy stored there to fuel your body and maintain stable blood-glucose levels. When you get dehydrated and your liver can’t perform this important function, you’ll start to crave foods like sweets and salty foods which your body recognizes as easy sources of energy.
- Inability to Lose Weight
Because it saps your energy, impairs digestion and frequently causes unhealthy cravings, dehydration can also make it nearly impossible to lose weight. Furthermore, since your body can’t break down fat stores without adequate hydration, even if you force yourself to exercise, you probably won’t be getting the results you want out of your workout.
- Urinary Tract Infections
A good supply of water is absolutely crucial for the proper function of your urinary tract. When you become dehydrated, your kidneys and bladder will try to stretch what little water it does have last as long as possible. Unfortunately, without a semi-constant stream of fresh urine to flush them out, bacteria have more time to replicate and overpopulate inside the cozy, warm environment inside of your urethra and bladder.
The most obvious sign that your kidneys and bladder are at risk of becoming the next big vacation hotspot for unicellular organisms can be found in the color of your urine. If your flow is consistently darker than a pale shade of yellow, you need to up your water intake, asap!
- Gout Flare-Ups
Gout is caused by a build up of uric acid which crystallizes around the joints – usually in the hands and feet – which cause intense sharp pain. Because your kidneys need water to flush excess uric acid out of your body, dehydration is one of the biggest factors which contribute to gout flare-ups.
- Muscle Cramps and Joint Pain
Water is your body’s natural lubricant and cooling system. Without it, your muscles will overheat and seize up and your joints will start to grind. Keep your body in good working order with a constant supply of hydration.
- Itchy Dry Skin, Chapped Lips and Dandruff
Because your skin is in constant contact with the surrounding environment, it loses water faster than the rest of your body. As such, probably the most obvious warning signs of chronic dehydration are persistent dry skin, chapped lips and dandruff.
- Eczema Outbreaks
Eczema outbreaks can be triggered by a variety of different factors, both environmental and internal. Excessively dry skin – such as that caused by constant dehydration – ranks at the top of the list for many people with the condition.
- Premature Aging
Without adequate hydration, skin loses its elasticity. Also, due to hampered blood flow (which we discussed briefly in #1), a long-term lack of water also robs your skin cells of the nutrients they needs to regenerate. Consequently, living in a constant state of dehydration accelerates the formation of wrinkles, fine lines, crows feet, sagging or loose skin, and other signs of aging.
- Frequent Respiratory Problems
From the inside of your nose down into the lower reaches of your bronchi, our entire respiratory tract relies on mucus to keep its tissues moist and supple and to prevent foreign particles out of your lungs. A lack of adequate hydration hinders mucus production, thus hindering your respiratory system’s ability to deflect allergens like dust, pollen and pet dander or to defend itself against infection from viral and bacterial invaders.
- Chronic Bad Breath
One of the most common symptoms of dehydration manifests in the mouth. Xerostomia, more commonly known as ‘dry mouth’ results from a decrease in saliva production due to dehydration or other factors (such as medications, tobacco use or certain medical conditions). Saliva is a necessary component for regulating the population of microorganisms which live in your mouth. Dehydration and the consequential lack of saliva allows yeast and bacteria to flourish unchecked around your teeth, gums and tongue which can quickly transform a healthy mouth into a miasma of chronic bad breath.
- Foul Body Odor
Water facilitates the transport of waste materials out of the body. When you’re constantly dehydrated, said waste materials don’t necessarily make it out, but instead get stored away in cells for future removal. Over time, all of that leftover gunk can change your body chemistry for the worse. (Imagine it’s like leaving a full bag of kitchen waste in the garbage bin for too long.) Furthermore, dry and damaged skin caused by dehydration creates a perfect environment for odor-causing bacteria to kick back, relax and reproduce like microscopic rabbits.