Thirst is not the only sign you’re not drinking enough water. As a matter of fact according to medical experts, by the time you feel that urge to quench your thirst, you might already be on the verge of dehydration. Depriving your body of good old H2O can bring on a slew of health issues such as kidney problems, stroke, and can even contribute to diseases like diabetes. On the extreme end, not taking in enough water can also lead to death.
The latest guidelines from the Institute of Medicine recommend that most women consume about 91 ounces—that’s actually about 9 cups of total water a day. Men need a bit more; about 125 ounces (or 13 cups) a day. A helpful reminder to stay hydrated: keep some water right within reach and take sips every chance you get throughout the course of the day.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Blacks do not consume as much water as whites or Latinos and usually turn to soft drinks and other beverages that are loaded with sucrose, lots of calories, and offer no nutritional value. A lack of hydration can seriously cause damage to our bodies, so if you experience any of the following symptoms it might be time to fill up that water bottle pronto!
Increased Risk of Stroke: This is especially dangerous for elderly people who may have decreased thirst sensations due to age, in addition to water and sodium imbalances. Dehydration causes blood to be thicker, causing it to flow less easily to the brain through the narrowed or blocked blood vessels. In addition, the thicker and more concentrated your blood becomes, the harder it is for your cardiovascular system to compensate by increasing heart rate to maintain blood pressure.
Research has shown that 60 percent of people are dehydrated at the time of stroke and that recovery is boosted by being well-hydrated. Being Sick Longer: Drinking water allows your body to continuously flush out toxins. Your organs work to filter out certain waste products like a machine, but if you don’t fuel the machine with water, it cannot work properly. What ends up happening in a dehydrated body is organs start to pull water from stored areas like your blood, which leads to a whole new set of problems.
Dry eyes, skin, and mouth: When you’re dehydrated, saliva production decreases, leaving your mouth and lips feeling dry. Dry mouth can also make your breath stinky because bacteria have the chance to linger longer when it’s not being washed away regularly. Dehydration also causes the skin to be limp, flaccid, lusterless, and dry. Increasing water intake can also help decrease the annoying symptoms of dry eye syndrome.
Headaches: You might want to think twice before grabbing a pain reliever the next time you experience a headache and opt for a tall glass of water instead. The exact way dehydration causes a headache isn’t known. But experts believe that when hydration levels drop, so does blood volume, which leads to lower blood flow to the brain. This reduces the brain’s oxygen supply and causes the blood vessels to dilate, leading to headaches and even lightheadedness.
Dark pee: The color of your pee can tell you a lot about your health. Healthy, hydrated pee should be light yellow or clear, a sign that it’s properly diluted.
If you’re noticing shades of medium yellow, dark yellow, or orange in your urine, it can be a sign that you are dehydrated.
Disorientation: Confusion, lethargy, difficulty, dizziness, trouble concentrating, these signs of dehydration are most common in older adults. They do not feel thirst until they are already dehydrated. As we lose fluids every day via sweating, urination, an imbalance of electrolytes (nutrients or minerals in the body) can develop. Drinking water helps to maintain balance within the body.
Joint Pain: The cartilage and spinal discs that keep our bones from grinding together are 80 percent water and hydration, they help to ensure that joints can take the impact of sudden movements like running or falling which is why you need to drink H2O.
Constipation: Drinking water is instrumental in detoxification. It flushes toxins and waste from the body and transports nutrients to where they are needed. Without water, the contents of your colon can dry out and get stuck, eventually causing constipation. Water is a natural lubricant that softens stool and promotes the evacuation of the bowels.
Lack of sweat during exercise: If you’re working out and not breaking a sweat you might be headed towards heatstroke. Sweating helps to regulate our core body temp. If there isn’t enough water to produce sweat, your body can’t regulate itself which is a bad sign!
Muscle Spasm or “Charley Horse.” You know those super painful muscle spasms that wake you up in the middle of the night after your whole calf seizes up? They typically occur when a muscle is overused, and exercising when your fluid levels are low can spark one.