Dehydration is no joke. Whether hiking the Grand Canyon or spending another day at the office, staying hydrated is essential to health. The human body is at least two-thirds water, and once its liquid content is reduced, bad things start to happen. Let’s review mild to serious effects of dehydration to help your water intake efforts.
Mild side effects of dehydration are mainly just unpleasant, but still serve as indications that water replenishment is necessary. These effects include bad breath, dry skin, tiredness or lethargy , dry mouth, and less urine output and/or darker urine. Other signs include thirst and few or no tears when crying.
Moderate side effects of dehydration include muscle cramps, constipation, dizziness, and headaches.
Severe side effects of dehydration include rapid heartbeat and breathing, sunken eyes, fever and chills, swelling of the brain, seizures, hypovolemic shock, kidney failure, coma, and death. Seizures, for example, occur due to electrolyte imbalances. Such imbalances cause involuntary muscle contractions and even loss of consciousness. Hypovolemic shock is one of the most serious effects of dehydration; it happens when low blood volume creates a drop in blood pressure and bodily oxygen. Kidney failure is another life-threatening complication indicating the kidneys are no longer able to function, resulting in a buildup of toxic fluids and waste in the body.
Tips for Preventing Dehydration
Causes of dehydration include excessive sweating, vomiting, frequent urination, and diabetes. Diabetics are also subject to dehydration due to high blood sugar levels and medications that result in frequent urination. Prevent dehydration by always keeping a bottle of water with you, especially if participating in physical activity under extremely hot temperatures. Opt for water-heavy foods such as cucumber and watermelon, and avoid dry, carb-filled snacks that contain a lot of salt.
Drink at least eight glasses of room-temperature water per day to stay hydrated. Ice water sits in your stomach until the body cools it!
Have you experienced severe dehydration? Share your story in the comments!
Kent Page McGroarty is a freelance lifestyle writer whose work has appeared in AZ Central Healthy Living, Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine, SF Gate Home and Garden, LIVESTRONG, Moblized.com, I Do Take Two.com, and many other online publications. Twitter: @KentsStuff.