The Health Consequences Of Dehydration

Why Is Water So Important Anyway?

Stay Hydrated!
Stay Hydrated!

Water is considered a panacea (Sloth: That sounds like a heavy metal band.) for sustaining life as well as promoting health.

You should drink at least eight glasses each day to replenish your body’s reserves and to prevent dehydration. (Sloth: Water! Okay listen. Just hear me out! There are too many kinds of water on the market. Spring water, distilled water, mineral water, too many types of water! This is what I know about water. Water is where fish live. Female fish lay eggs in the water, male fish come and release their swimmers in the water to fertilize the eggs. Therefore, fish have sex in water. I don’t want to drink stuff that fish have sex in. Is there another option?)

Avoid dehydration as it can lead to a series of health issues. These complications can make a person sick as toxins and pollutants collect in the body if they are not “flushed” (Sloth: That means pee doesn’t it? I know it means pee) out of the system.


The Role of Water in Weight Loss

I’m sure you’ve heard that drinking more water will help you lose weight faster.  But how?  There are a couple of reason that this holds true.

Water has no calories.  We all drink multiple beverages throughout the day.  For those of us that cherish the sweet green elixir of life, otherwise known as Mountain Dew, we’re consuming 170 calories for each can that we drink.  If we replaced that with water, we would cut several hundred calories out of our daily diet.

Water gives us more energy.  The simple fact is that water is vital for our body to function properly.  Your internal organs, especially your kidneys, need water in order to perform it’s job.  Naturally, when your body is hydrated, it feels better and gives you more energy to perform daily activities.

Research discovered that drinking 16 ounces of water 30 minutes before each meal makes you feel full which leads to healthier decisions during your meal.  One of the biggest problems that has led to the obesity statistics in America is portion control.  Everything comes supersized these days and since many of us were raised to “clean our plates”, we feel as though we simply must eat all 7,428 French fries that come in the carton.  Even that one tiny burnt one at the very bottom!

However, drinking two cups, or 16 ounces of water before each meal will help you remember that those French fries aren’t healthy anyway so you can just get by on the delicious chicken wrap that they came with.  You’ll probably even drink less of the watered down, flat Coke you ordered with it since you’re not so thirsty.


Mild to Moderate Dehydration Side Effects

When water is not regularly consumed contaminants build up, which can cause illness or heath issues.

People may complain of such maladies (Sloth: Tour poster one night only Panacea and Maladies coming to a city near you!) as fatigue, digestive disturbances (Sloth: Is that poop? Because if you are talking about poop here I’m totally down with being regular there!) and headaches as well as pimples, dry skin or dry hair.

Studies have found that even mild levels of dehydration, like 2%, have caused reduced physical performance in athletes.  If you are engaged in rigorous physical activities, you may experience reduced performance, reduced endurance, increased fatigue, more difficulty regulating your body temperature, decreased motivation, and an increase in perceived effort.

However, these sorts of side effects are light when compared to dehydration that is more pronounced.


Severe Side Effects


While thirst, tiredness, dry mouth, dry skin, constipation (Sloth: Yep! It was poop!) or lightheadedness may make up moderate symptoms, severe dehydration is noted by symptomatology that is marked by such responses as:

• Rapid heartbeat
• Shriveled inelastic skin
• Dry mouth and mucous membranes
• Extreme irritability
• Confusion
• Low blood pressure
• Little or no urination
• Sunken eyes
• Rapid breathing
• Fever
(Sloth: That’s a zombie. Got it. In case of a zombie apocalypse spray with water. If that doesn’t help.. aim for the head.)


A Nutrient That Cannot Be Ignored


Oral rehydration solutions should be given in the form of Pedialyte (Sloth: That sounds like a baby dinosaur. It’s not nice to drink a baby dinosaur) to ensure that dehydration does not become severe.

Both children and adults should drink plenty of water before and after exercise or consume sports drinks like Gatorade. (Sloth: Yes! An option besides water!) Water is a nutrient that cannot be ignored when it comes to good health.

This is especially important when exercising because sweating removes water from our bodies and at this time, hydration is of utmost importance. (Sloth: Doesn’t sweating and peeing remove like 16% of the fat from your body? But if you drink more then you pee more. Okay so it could be a game. Every time you pee you could wave bye bye to fat and flush.)


Make Sure You Are Getting Enough Water

In order to ensure you are getting enough water, also make it a practice to consume foods such as citrus, watermelon, (Sloth: Oh yes! Watermelon is my favorite. If you get a watermelon, call me. I’m coming over!) tomatoes and cantaloupe. Vegetables that also help in the hydration process include celery, greens, and lettuce.


Foods That Lead To Dehydration

While vomiting and diarrhea are the main causes of dehydration in people suffering from the flu or other illness, certain everyday foods can lead to dehydration too.

Therefore, be on the alert if you are already mildly dehydrated for the following foods:

• French fries
• Cured meats
• Coffee (a natural diuretic)
• Soy Sauce
• Bouillon cubes

Any sugary drink can lead to dehydration too. (Sloth: Blasphemy! Why you want to say such cruel things about my sweet green elixir of life? The Dew of happiness. The Mountain of joy. My ever present best friend! Such a cruel cruel statement!) So, even if you think you are replenishing your system with that sugary soda, you are probably doing more harm than good.


Signs And Symptoms Of Dehydration

If you do not drink enough, sweat too much, or have severe diarrhea, you can become dehydrated. Mild to moderate dehydration isn’t that dangerous and can be corrected by drinking more fluids. (Sloth: But meaness said you can’t have the elixir of life and fix the dehydration issue. Still mean!)

If the dehydration worsens and becomes severe dehydration, you may need to have IV fluids to correct the condition. (Sloth: ER bills are way more expensive than a 36 pack of water.)

Here are some signs and symptoms of mild to moderate dehydration:

• Having a dry mouth
• Feeling fatigued or sleepy all the time
• Having increased thirstiness
• Having a decreased urine output with urine that is more yellow than it usually is
• Having dry or flaky skin
• Being dizzy
• Having a headache from low blood volume in the brain
• Crying without having many tears
(Sloth: Wow that sucks.)

If the dehydration is allowed to worsen and you continue to lose body water, you may see the following signs and symptoms:

• A severe reduction in the output of urine or the absence of urine at all. If there is any urine produced, it will be scant in amount and a deep yellow color or amber/brown color.
• Lightheadedness or severe dizziness that is worse when you stand up or get up from a reclining position.
• Orthostatic hypotension. This is a severe drop in blood pressure that occurs when you try to get up after sitting or lying down.
• Rapid heart rate from the heart trying to compensate for a low blood volume.
• Fever, which is usually low grade in nature
• Seizures, which are usually grand mal seizures
• Poor elasticity of the skin. When you pinch it, the skin tents up and doesn’t go back to its normal position.
• Being lethargic or confused
• Going into a coma
• Suffering from extreme shock, which can be life threatening.

(Sloth: Wow.. these just get heavier with the suckage as they go.)

Dehydration has a way of sneaking up on you, especially if you are otherwise occupied with other things, such as the activity you are doing or are wrapped up in being sick with vomiting and diarrhea. (Sloth: Got it. Dehydration is a zombie infection bearing ninja!)

As soon as you start to feel the symptoms, you need to be thinking about hydrating yourself.


Treating Mild To Moderate Dehydration


If the symptoms are mild and you can still drink, try to step up the amount of fluids you are taking in. Water is perhaps the best choice for treating dehydration.

Other good choices include Gatorade or PowerAde, which provide liquids plus electrolytes that can be lost in sweating, vomiting, or having diarrhea.

If the problem is due to vomiting or diarrhea, you can buy some Pedialyte or your doctor may prescribe anti-emetic (anti-nausea) medication.

Over the counter anti-diarrheal medication is another choice as long as the diarrhea isn’t from food poisoning. (In such cases, it is best to replace fluids only and allow the bacteria causing the diarrhea to flush out of your system).
(Sloth: Fish water isn’t sounding all that bad now.)


Treating Severe Dehydration

If the dehydration is severe and you are suffering from some of the severe dehydration symptoms listed above, you need to consider checking yourself into a hospital and receiving IV fluids.

IV fluids have not only the water you need but contain a solution of sugars and salt that will restore your normal electrolyte balance. It can take as little as a liter of fluid to turn around the dehydration or as many as five or more liters of IV fluid.   (Sloth: Say no to Emergency Room bills.)


Consequences Of Severe Dehydration

Besides seizures, one of the main consequences of severe dehydration includes damage to the kidneys. If the kidneys do not have fluid to flush through the tubules, you can actually suffer from acute kidney failure.

The kidneys can shut down and will only return to normal functioning with careful replacement of fluids and time. Replacing the fluids too fast, however, can result in cerebral edema and electrolyte disturbance within the brain.
(Sloth: Watermelon a day will keep doctors away!)


Stay Hydrated

To avoid these horrible consequences drink water regularly. This is easy when you always have access to water, by keeping a PVA free bottle of water in your car, and on your desk or near you wherever you work. You can even keep a small bottle in your handbag and refill it throughout the day.  (Sloth: Definitely a PVA free bottle. Nobody needs cancer on top of being a zombie.)


Healthy Substitutes

If you don’t want to consume plain water, choose a flavored water instead. You can add a flavored, sugar-free powder, such as Crystal Light, to iced water too. Juice, such as apple juice, cranapple juice or V8 are also healthy substitutes. (Sloth: THANK YOU! More options besides fish water!)

Vitamin water and various flavored water products are a good alternative for those who really cannot stand to drink plain water. However, keep in mind that some contain added sugar that no one needs, so check the labels. Vitamin Water Zero is a good option, as it contains all the healthy stuff without added sugars.


One Parting Note

Make sure you are obtaining all the water you need by keeping a container of H20 available at your side. Also, check the color of your urine to make sure you are rehydrating properly.

(Sloth: Parting note from me. It’s so hard to change bad habits. Especially when the voice in your head sounds just like me. I know, I know… I’m completely awesome and have great points! But being healthy is a total change of life. Also, you know you look before you flush anyway… just check it. It’s better to check out your bowl than be a zombie.)

This article has 2 Comments

  1. To lose weight, it is recommend that you drink a certain amount of water based on your weight. To find that number, multiply your weight by 2/3 ( or .66) and that’s the amount of ounces you should drink each day. So if you’re 200#
    200 x .66 = 132 ounces, which is just over a gallon.

    Tips n’Tricks
    If you’re a bottled water person, put the caps in your pocket to easily track your intake. If you aren’t a bottle junkie, toss pennies in your pocket, move one to the other side for each chosen increment you take in.

    Drink when you’re not thirsty. When you’re thirsty, you’re already dehydrated.

    Drink a (cup?) of water when you wake up, after you brush your teeth, before breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and right before bed. That’s 6 cups or 48 oz right there!

    For me, the increased water intake has decreased my caffeine intake! Who would have thought?!! I’ve gone from a pot of coffee every morning to a cup. If you had asked me if that was ever going to be possible, I’d have sworn you had gone ’round the bend.

    1. Great tips, Jen! Thank you for sharing your experience with us. I’ve also found that drinking water decreases my caffeine intake. Personally, I play a numbers game with water. I’ve always hated water so when I first started making it my main beverage, I would force 5 swallows every time I took a drink. This forced me to drink more. Now I don’t hate water so much and am almost up to the amount that I’m supposed to be drinking each day.


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