Part 3 of 3 in this series on water (see Part 1 & Part 2)
So you don’t get enough water, big deal, right? Dehydration, which occurs when the body has insufficient water and other fluids to function properly, can lead to ailments and potentially fatal complications.
You Know Dehydration is bad for you, but did you know that insufficient water intake can KILL?
John Higgins, MD, associate professor of cardiovascular medicine at the University of Texas in Houston, and chief of cardiology at Lyndon B. Johnson General Hospital has provided some indicators of dehydration. He’ll provided the complications that can arise when you don’t get your body enough water.
Short Term Complications
- Thirst (duh)
- Dry or sticky mouth & bad breath. Saliva has antibacterial properties in it, but dehydration can prevent your body from making enough saliva.
- Not peeing very much or dark yellow pee – I know this is a little disgusting for some readers, but it is one of the easiest ways to observe if you are hydrating properly.
- Dry, cool or flushed skin – “..as you go through various stages of dehydration, you don’t have enough blood volume so you get very dry skin,” Dr. Higgins says. He adds that because there is little moisture in the skin, little evaporating occurs, and you can also experience flushing of the skin.
- Headache, migraines – Dr. Higgins explains that the brain is protected by a layer of fluid that keeps it from bouncing around the skull, causing damage. If there is less fluid protecting the brain because of dehydration, the brain can push up against parts of the skull, causing headaches.
- Muscle cramps – According to Dr. Higgins, as you work your muscles harder and harder, they can seize up from the heat itself. Also, “Changes in the electrolytes, changes in the sodium and potassium can lead to muscle cramping as well.”
Longer Term Complications
- Rapid heartbeat & breathing – your body is trying to compensate for the inefficient delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the cells because there isn’t enough water in the system to allow the body to efficiently deliver these nutrients to the cells.
- Hunger and Food Cravings – “When you’re dehydrated, it can be difficult for some nutrients and organs like the liver which use water to release some glycogens and other components of your energy stores, so you can actually get cravings for food,” Higgins says. While you can crave anything from chocolate to a salty snack, cravings for sweets are more common because your body may be experiencing difficulty with glycogen production, he says.
- Sleepiness, lack of energy, confusion or irritability – If you aren’t efficient at your job, you end up doing more work to get the same amount done. Your body is the same: when it doesn’t have enough water to allow for efficient function, it has to work harder to do the same amount of work.
- Fainting or Feeling dizzy – If you deprive your body, it cries out. Give it what it needs!
- Mood & Energy – Studies have shown that even mild dehydration can have adverse effects on mood and energy.
Life Threatening Complications
If you ignore these symptoms of dehydration, you body will begin to cry out for help. Lack of water can cause:
- Urinary and kidney problems. When kidney’s and bladders are forced to work overtime without proper, you can see ailments ranging from urinary tract infections to kidney stones. Extended or repeated stints of dehydration can even cause kidney failure.
- Seizures. Electrolytes in your water — such as potassium and sodium — help carry electrical signals between cells. If your electrolytes low or not balanced, these electrical messages can become confused, which can lead to involuntary muscle contractions and sometimes to a loss of consciousness.
- Blood Clots – Dehydration may cause your blood to thicken, increasing your risk of developing blood clots.
- Low blood volume shock (hypovolemic shock). When you lack water, you don’t produce new blood as efficiently. This lack of blood volume can cause a drop in blood pressure and a drop in the amount of oxygen delivered to your body’s cells. This a VERY serious, and potentially life-threatening, complication of dehydration.
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