TO YOUR HEALTH

Nine signs that you’re de­hy­drated—be­sides be­ing thirsty

RSWLiving - - Department­s - BY KLAUDIA BALOGH Klaudia Balogh is a health and fit­ness writer for TOTI Me­dia.

Drink Up!

It’s a busy day. You’re in and out of meet­ings, got a con­fer­ence call to jump on, a dead­line to meet, gro­cery shop­ping on the way home, then cook­ing din­ner for the fam­ily. There’s so much on your mind that only when you look at the full glass on your desk do you re­al­ize that you’ve hardly had any wa­ter to­day. That may be a prob­lem. Wa­ter is es­sen­tial. A per­son can survive for only three or four days—a week at most—with­out wa­ter. Two of the most im­por­tant or­gans, the brain and the lungs, are around 70 per­cent and 80 per­cent wa­ter, re­spec­tively. Plus, ev­ery cell in the body de­pends on wa­ter to func­tion prop­erly. It reg­u­lates body tem­per­a­ture, trans­ports nu­tri­ents, sup­ports the struc­ture of cells and tis­sues, and pre­serves car­dio­vas­cu­lar func­tion.

Re­search shows that at least 7 out of 10 Amer­i­cans drink be­low the rec­om­mended lev­els and are de­hy­drated. Ac­cord­ing to the In­sti­tute of Medicine, men are ad­vised to drink 13 ounces of fluid, while women re­quire 9 ounces per day, but it should be more dur­ing hot­ter weather and af­ter ex­er­cise. It doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily have to be H2O; you can get your wa­ter re­quire­ment from other bev­er­ages and through a com­bi­na­tion of foods that have a high fluid con­tent such as fruits and veg­eta­bles.

Keep in mind, how­ever, that although sug­ary drinks and so­das do fall into the “other bev­er­ages” cat­e­gory, they may ac­tu­ally in­crease de­hy­dra­tion. That’s be­cause the body uses wa­ter to me­tab­o­lize sugar, which in­creases its need for more wa­ter.

It’s easy to for­get about be­ing thirsty and not no­tice the signs. Yet, when the body is de­hy­drated it shouts loud and clear, and we must pay at­ten­tion.

Here are nine signs that a sip of wa­ter is in order.

FA­TIGUE AND DIZZI­NESS

De­hy­dra­tion may cause a drop in blood pres­sure, de­creas­ing the blood flow to the brain, and, ac­cord­ing to the Amer­i­can Heart As­so­ci­a­tion, even mild de­hy­dra­tion (a loss of as lit­tle as 1 per­cent to 2 per­cent of body weight) can cause weak­ness and dizzi­ness.

CON­STI­PA­TION

When the body lacks enough wa­ter, it starts ex­tract­ing from other parts of the body that are in less need of it—for ex­am­ple, your stool, mak­ing it harder to pass. Be­sides the dis­com­fort, it also ex­poses the body to tox­ins

and waste prod­ucts for a longer pe­riod of time.

IN­SOM­NIA AND DIS­RUPTED SLEEP

Go­ing to bed de­hy­drated may de­crease the qual­ity of sleep, cause snor­ing or re­duce mela­tonin (the sleep hor­mone) lev­els. De­hy­dra­tion can also cause dry mouth and nasal pas­sages, lead­ing to ir­ri­ta­tion and snor­ing that might wake you up or bother the per­son sleep­ing next to you.

RE­DUCED COG­NI­TIVE FUNC­TION

De­hy­dra­tion af­fects young peo­ple and the el­derly more dras­ti­cally than it does healthy adults, but re­searchers have found that be­ing de­hy­drated may im­pair per­for­mance in tasks that re­quire at­ten­tion, men­tal ac­tiv­ity and im­me­di­ate mem­ory skills.

HEADACHE AND MI­GRAINE

Be­cause of de­hy­dra­tion, the blood volume to the brain may drop and tem­po­rar­ily lower blood and oxy­gen flow to the brain. Hence, the blood ves­sels in the brain may di­late, which

can cause some swelling and an in­creased feel­ing of pres­sure.

DRY SKIN AND LIPS

Lack of hy­dra­tion may cause a loss in skin elas­tic­ity, mak­ing your skin dry and lips chapped. Lo­tions help, but you should hy­drate from the in­side out, too.

BAD BREATH

Not hav­ing enough saliva can lead to ex­cess growth of bac­te­ria in the mouth that may cause un­pleas­ant odor. A mint might cover up the symp­toms, but you must treat it by its roots, so the so­lu­tion to your bad breath may just be a glass of wa­ter away.

LOW OR DARK-COLOR URINE

Have you ever no­ticed the darker color of your urine when you go to the bath­room first thing in the morn­ing? When kid­neys fil­ter waste, they pull ex­tra wa­ter out of the blood to pro­duce urine. But since the body isn’t get­ting any ex­ter­nal wa­ter for at least six hours overnight, there isn’t much ex­tra by the time you wake up, so it con­tains less fluid and be­comes more con­cen­trated. Skip­ping the bath­room could also cause waste and fluid to build up to un­healthy lev­els in the body.

KID­NEY STONES

This could be the next ter­ri­ble stage af­ter hav­ing low and dark urine, es­pe­cially if there’s a lot of sodium in your diet. The kid­neys can’t break down salt prop­erly if there are not enough flu­ids in the urine, caus­ing a build-up of min­er­als that may form those painful rock­like crys­tals.

To avoid de­hy­dra­tion, women are ad­vised to drink at least 9 ounces of flu­ids each day, men 13 ounces.

De­hy­dra­tion may re­duce lev­els of mela­tonin and af­fect the qual­ity of sleep.

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