These summers do you feel thirsty all the time? The scorching heat making you feel dizzy and tired? Do you face frequent headaches and muscle cramps?
Then maybe you are also dehydrated. More than half of people don’t realise but are suffering from dehydration which can be a serious health issue which could land you in the hospital. Especially in summers, people don’t realise the amount of water their body can lose in heat or while workout.
You must be wondering what is dehydration and how much liquid is required for your body each day?
Dehydration occurs when your body has an insufficient amount of water levels and other fluids present which are essential for the proper functioning of the body. Dehydration can lead to blood clots, fatal complications and seizures. Water makes up almost 2/3rd of your body. It plays a vital role in your normal body functions such as keeping your skin healthy, eliminating toxins from the body, lubricating joints, eyes and facilitating digestion. If water levels in your body are reduced it leads to an imbalance between sugar and salts in the body which can affect your body performance. In the case of one or two percent loss of entire water content, you will thirsty which is a sign of mild dehydration to tell you that you need to replenish lost fluids. It’s better to catch dehydration at earlier stages as at later stages you may face adverse effects on mood and can also lead to fatigue.
When it comes to how much liquid intake is required for an average body the Institute of Medicine recommends 2.7 litres of water a day(about 12 cups) for ladies and 3.7 litres a day (about 15 cups) which includes the water gained from beverages like tea, milk and food as well. Consuming plenty of water every day is crucial; for your body to work properly, so if you are not getting enough fluids for your body, your body sends you a range of signs to let you know that you need to top up it with liquids.
Listed below are the causes of dehydration, few signs to check that you might be dehydrated and some remedies and tips to stay hydrated and healthy these summers. If you notice any of these signs or symptoms immediately take measures to hydrate your body.
Causes of dehydration
There can be various reasons for your body dehydration that is intense physical activity, extreme hot climate or fats or calories which make your body loose water.
Other reasons may be as listed below:
- Diarrhoea can be one of the major causes of dehydration as it prevents intestinal tract from absorbing water from whatever you eat. You tend to lose a lot of water from the body in a state of diarrhoea as you frequently go for watery bowel motions making the continuous loss of fluid and electrolytes from the body making it dehydrated.
- Fever, too much exercise or workout and too much heat exposure can also lead to dehydration.
- A disease like diabetes can also be a cause of dehydration. Some diabetes medications like diuretics cause frequent urination which leads to dehydration.
- Vomiting also leads to loss of fluid and minerals from the body. Vomiting can be caused due to food poisoning, foodborne illness, alcohol poisoning and nausea.
- Frequent urination due to over alcohol consumption, blood pressure medications, antipsychotics and drugs like antihistamines may also cause dehydration.
- Vigorous and profuse sweating due to fever, physical activity or hot condition can also lead to dehydration.
- Disabled people who are unable to seek water time to time or impaired the ability to drink for people who are in coma or respirator may also suffer from the dehydrated body.
- Injuries to skin or mouth sores also lead to loss of water through damaged skin and leave body dehydrated.
- Sometimes you don’t drink water when you are sick or due to lack of access to water when you are travelling, camping or hiking.
Signs that your body is dehydrated
Listed below are few signs which indicate that you are dehydrated.
Thirst and dry sticky mouth
The very first sign that you are dehydrated is that you will feel thirsty. Always try not to let yourself get into this situation. The best way to prevent this situation is to meet your daily water needs as suggested by Indian Medical Academy. Try to drink water if you have spent time in the scorching heat, or working out. The second obvious indicator that your body is craving for water is dry mouth and slightly swollen tongue.
Naturally, your mouth is mostly moist but when its dry quickly grabs a glass of water. Dehydration can prevent the body from making saliva and lead to a foul smell your mouth as saliva as antibacterial properties and prevents a bacterial attack in the mouth. Due to Chronic dehydration lack of saliva production in the mouth can lead to bacteria overgrowth leading to bad breath.
No sweating even in hot weather or during physical exertion
Even after a physical exertion or a heavy workout if you are not sweating then there is a big reason to worry. It is one of the serious signs of dehydration. It simply means your body is in desperate need of hydration. Dehydration may also lead to overheating of body or heat stroke. Proper water levels in body ensure in regulating body temperature.
When our body overheats we sweat in order to lower the body temperature by evaporative cooling. Because sweat is made up of water so if you are dehydrated you won’t sweat much even in sun and after a workout which ultimately overheats your body.
Dark yellow urine and fewer toilet breaks
Darker urine is again a sign of dehydration. The color of your urine depicts the true picture of how much water you are consuming. There are different colours of urine which indicates levels of hydration and dehydration in your body.
- Straw coloured or light yellow urine means your body is properly hydrated.
- Perfectly clear urine means you are over hydrated.
- A darker shade of urine means your body is dehydrated and your urine is over concentrated with toxins and wastes.
- A shade of orange or brown urine means your body is severely dehydrated.
The darker colour of urine happens because water is responsible for flushing out waste and toxins from the body. When you have hydrated the ratio of water and waste is higher making the urine colour lighter. While in the case of darker urine the ratio of water is less compared to toxins. If your urine is dark along with blood in your pee you immediately need to stop exercising.
The not just colour of urine but taking fewer toilet breaks is also a sign of dehydration. Many people don’t eliminate waste frequently which leads to accumulation of toxins inside the body. Water keeps renal system work smoothly so when you drink more water you tend to pee more. If take fewer toilet breaks consider drinking more water.
If your urine is not clear till the end of the day then drink a glass or two of water before heading to bed at night.
While exercising it is ok for your legs to feel tired however if its more than that and you are feeling muscle cramping then it is a serious sign of dehydration. The reason is because of loss of water and salt due to dehydration you might also experience muscle tightness. Muscle cramping is a clue that your body is sodium deficit and deficiency of fluids in certain muscles.
When you work out the hotter you get the more likely you can get muscle cramps as the heat has a direct effect on muscles. Change in electrolyte balance, sodium and potassium can also lead to muscle cramping.
In order to prevent this drink sports beverage that contains sodium and electrolytes. Sodium helps in the rehydrating body and retain water. For proper muscle contraction water, potassium, sodium and electrolytes levels should be adequate.
Dry skin lacking elasticity
If your skin is dehydrated your skin lacks elasticity however if it is hydrated it will appear doughy. If you pinch your skin it doesn’t bounce back quickly as it becomes thin and doesn’t melt back on your body.
In dehydration, you don’t get enough blood volume that’s why you get very dry skin. Dehydration appears on your skin and this is the biggest sign of dehydration. Due to lack of water, you won’t sweat out internal external toxins from the body which leads to clogged pores which ultimately leads to breakouts.
If your body doesn’t produce tears the culprit may be insufficient water levels in your body.
Headaches and fever
Dehydration may result in headaches, light headedness, delirium or a migraine as well. Due to lack of fluids in the body, you may also experience dizziness, nausea or weakness. This can also be a result of heat exhaustion. Dehydration may also lead to fever like symptoms or hyperthermia because over heating of body can alter body’s normal temperature. If you are exercising and feel any such signs stop immediately, take an ice bath and hydrate yourself.
Our body is a using up liquid in the body not just water but essential minerals and salts. When the water level drops in the body, a chemical reaction occurs in the blood which your brain is sensitive to. Your brain reacts leading to headaches. The more water you lose, the more severe headache because the more blood volume drops the les oxygen will flow to your brain.
Fever can be dangerous and you should take immediate medical help if it over 101°F.
Dehydration can make you feel low and can affect your cognitive functions and mood to great extent. People tend to get less alert and forgetful. Dehydration can alter one’s mood, ability to think and energy. You tend to get mood swings and you yourself won’t be able to understand your behaviour. Loss of enthusiasm, anger and fluctuating moods is also a sign of dehydration.
Hunger cues are increased
If you have consumed enough food throughout the day and still feel the need for eating especially water based foods like veggies, fruits then it’s an indicator that you have dehydrated actually and don’t need more food. Drink a glass of water and you will see yourself that the food craving is gone. When you are dehydrated it is difficult for some organs like liver to use fluids to release glycogens which can get you food cravings.
While you can have craving for any sort of food like chocolates or salty snacks but cravings for sweets is more common because the body has difficulties with glycogen production. Hunger and thirst cues come from same part of the brain and that’s why it can be confusing for you to decide whether you are hungry or thirsty.
Consume water-rich fruits like strawberries, water melon, tomatoes, celery or cucumber as they have more than 90% water content. You can also have yoghurt as it supplies a good amount of water to the body.
Tiredness and dizziness
If there is not enough water in your body the blood volume drops causing you to feel dizzy and light headed. Water brings oxygen to the blood and the more oxygenated your blood cells are the more lively you will feel.
If you don’t take adequate amount of liquids the body still requires oxygen from blood which it tries to compensate from sucking your body of oxygen. This makes entire body system slow and you tend to feel tired. Dehydration makes it hard for your body to respond and function properly. All these bodily changes make you lethargic, moody, dizzy and tired.
Other body issues like pressure, cholesterol and digestion
Listed below are the issues you may face with your body if you are dehydrated:
High blood pressure
Dehydration makes the blood thicker which gradually leads to a slower flow of blood and also leads to high sodium content in blood. Due to increased sodium content, it leads to high blood pressure.
Dehydration leads to higher cholesterol levels. This can be tested if you fast without water for an entire day and measure your blood cholesterol it would be higher.
Water is responsible for moving things throughout your body including your digestive system. Water is also responsible for detoxifying your body. But if the water content in the body is not enough waste moves through colon very slowly. When the body is in a dehydrated state, large intestine soaks water from food thus increasing digestive issues, ulcers, acid reflux and constipation.
As we know body’s cartilage is made of 80% water and in order to keep bones and joints healthy water plays an essential. Water keeps our joints lubricated and hence protects the body from falling and tripping. When you have back pain make sure you drink more water as it may indicate to kidney infection due to dehydration.
How to check if your body is dehydrated or not?
After going through all these signs of dehydration if you are still not sure whether your body is dehydrated or not then try these two quick tests to check it.
Check your urine
There are three warning colours (yellow, chardonnay and orange) of urine you need to watch for whether your body is dehydrated or not. If your body is well hydrated your urine would be clear with a slightly yellow appearance. If your body is 3% dehydrated your urine will be dark yellow. If your body is 5% dehydrated your urine will be chardonnay coloured. If your body is dehydrated more than 5% which is a condition of severe dehydration your urine will be orange.
Try skin test
use two fingers to grab a roll of your hand skin between where the watch sits and fingers start. Pull it for about one centimetre high and let the skin go. It’s basically a small pinch. The skin should come back to its normal position in a fraction of seconds. If the skin comes back slowly then you might be dehydrated.
Home remedies for curing dehydration
The best remedy to cure dehydration drinking lot of water to overcome it. If you don’t like drinking plain water then here are some remedies to cure dehydration and keep yourself hydrated.
Note: if you have severe dehydration consult medical help.
Listed below are some great remedies to treat dehydration effectively.
Increase water intake
The first and foremost thing you need to do when you feel dehydrated is drunk plenty of water. To avoid dehydration you can increase the daily water intake. Even if you don’t feel thirsty make it a habit of drinking water after every one or two hours especially in summer.
Make sure when you are drinking water you are not gulping it rather sipping small amounts of water. To get quick hydration drink carbohydrate or electrolyte drinks. You can also sip in sodium mixed water. Drink sports drinks, protein drinks or popsicles of juices while workouts or playing. You make it more interesting by sucking freeze bottled water or ice chips at regular intervals.
Yoghurt is the best remedy for people for dehydration due to diarrhoea or vomiting. It is soothing to stomach, easily digestible and rich source of electrolytes.
You can consume plain yoghurt either as a snack or even with meals. Another option is eat boiled rice with yoghurt.
Watery fruits and vegetables
Whether you are suffering from moderate dehydration or high, always keep a check on your water-rich fruits and vegetables because they hydrate your body twice as effectively as a glass of water. Fruits and veggies are rich in minerals, sugars and hydrating salts. Some of the watery fruits and veggies are strawberries, oranges, radishes, tomatoes, grapefruit, cucumber, zucchini and celery.
Coconut water is a great source of electrolytes which makes it a hydrating drink and helps treat dehydration. The best part is it is low in calories and have similar effects like a sports drink. Consume a glass or two of tender coconut water to rehydrate your body and get that energy back. You will get quick results as coconut water is absorbed rapidly by cells.
Buttermilk works great for people with mild dehydration. During summers all the water loss which is there due to excessive sweating can be regained by buttermilk as it provides minerals to the body.
Drink 3-4 glasses of buttermilk daily to help the body recover from dehydration. Buttermilk is an also a good source of protein.
You can also mix a half teaspoon of dry ginger in a cup of buttermilk for better results.
Soups and broths
Soups and broths are helpful in the hydrating body as they help in replenishing lost fluid and minerals from the body. Make soups with water rich vegetables like radishes, zucchini or celery to enhance the hydrating benefits of soup. To avoid dehydration and boost performance you can eat soup pre-workout.
We all are well aware of the benefits of lemon water. It is an excellent remedy for hydrating body. It is soothing to the body and makes you feel energised and refreshed by completely the hydrating your body.
Add lemon juice to a glass of water by squeezing half lemon. You can add one tablespoon, raw honey, a pinch of salt and black pepper powder to enhance the taste. Drink this soothing drink on regular basis to fight dehydration.
Barley water is a rich source of minerals which are lost with dehydration and it also keeps your body hydrated. It keeps the body cool in summers and is easily digested to give you quick relief from dehydration.
Soak a cup of barley in a filled bowl of water. Boil it and simmer it covered for one hour. Allow it to cool and then strain it. Add lemon juice and honey to give it a tangy yet sweet taste. Drink it on regular basis to get effective results.
ORS that is Oral Rehydration solution is the perfect remedy for prompt restoration of lost minerals and liquids due to dehydration. You can prepare a homemade ORS solution. Simply add a half teaspoon of salt and 6 teaspoons of sugar (preferably brown sugar) to 4 cups of water. Stir the mixture until sugar and salt dissolve completely. Drink this ORS multiple times a day for faster recovery. You can also buy ORS from a medical store and simply mix it with water. It’s ready for consumption.
Smoothies and shakes
If you want to hydrate yourself along with a delicious combo then this is the perfect solution for you. Prepare smoothies and shakes from watery fruits to get an adequate amount of hydration. All you need to do is take fruit pulps add water to milk to it and use a juicer to mix it. Your smoothie is ready. Consume these refreshing drinks in summers to keep yourself hydrated.
Additional Tips to stay hydrated
- Make it a habit of keeping your water bottle handy because if it’s next to you, you will get the habit of sipping it frequently.
- Try out different sort of teas to manage your daily fluid goal. There are a lot of different flavours available in the market. You can sip fruity iced tea, green tea or black coffee. Or you can cosy up your night with a mug of hot chamomile or peppermint tea. Make sure they are unsweetened if you are more into fitness.
- Sipping more water or juice before meals or with meals not just keeps you hydrated but also helps you eat slowly.
- If you don’t like drinking plain water you can make tasty by adding a fruit splash or add chunks of fresh fruits. You can also try naturally flavoured seltzers as the fruit flavour and fizz make them more appealing than plain water.
- Makeover your snacks by removing dry snacks like chips which have low water content and switch to refreshing munchies like fruits, veggies salad, celery, smoothies and yoghurt. These fruit and vegetable servings give you a hearty dose of fibre, minerals and vitamins and also supply an adequate amount of water to the body.
- Fluids that are at room temperature or cooler are better options for the dehydrated body as when cold water enters your stomach it constricts your arteries surrounding the tummy area which is quite helpful in the functioning of the stomach and helps in water absorption. If you hear water swishing sound in your stomach it means water is not absorbed properly. Moreover, cold water sits in the stomach till the time it warms up.
- You need to remember that when you exercise in summers the longer you work out the more water your body requires. Plain water is good but the combination of water with electrolytes and sodium is the best way to stay hydrated.