What happens to your body when you don’t drink enough water?

We have always been told we should drink water. The recommended amounts vary based on who you are talking to, but the thing that’s never really explain is why. Why is it important for us to drink water every day? What happens if we don’t drink enough water? The simple answer is “we get dehydrated,” but do you really know what that means? For the most part the average person does not.

By definition dehydration is when your body doesn’t have enough fluid and electrolytes to work properly. So how do we know when we are dehydrated or becoming dehydrated? Our bodies give us several warning signs.

In the first stages of dehydration; mild dehydration (a 3% to 5% loss of water), the body’s initial response is to preserve the amount of fluid still in the body by conserving water. This leads to various symptoms like thirst, dry mouth, and bad breath. As the body continues to preserve its water supplies dry eyes begin to occur due to insufficient tears to nourish the eye, and tears are necessary for providing clear vision. This will lead to eye strain, tired eyes, blurred vision, headaches and double vision. A decrease in urine output, muscle cramps, headache, lightheartedness, sleepiness are all other symptoms of mild dehydration.
Some other symptoms include:
• Dry skin
• Tiredness and fatigue
• Joint pain

In the 2nd stage of dehydration; moderate dehydration (a 6% to 9% loss of water), is when you begin to see even more serious effects from the lack of proper hydration. Migraine headaches are a common symptom of moderate hydration. In this stage it is not uncommon for the body to confuse the feeling of thirst with hunger, meaning that you may feel hungry when all you really need is water. You may also begin to crave sweets because your body may be having trouble breaking down glycogen to release glucose into the bloodstream to use as fuel.
Some other symptoms include:

• Water Retention (bloating)
• Weight gain
• Loss of cognitive function (brain power)
• Constipation
• Lack of nutrients

Severe dehydration (at least 10% loss of water); the last stage, can cause in increase in the risk of a stroke. It may also lead to kidney infections and stones, shock, coma, organ failure and can even result in death. Symptoms include feeling confused or lethargic, not urinating for eight hours, rapid heartbeat, low blood pressure, a weak pulse, the inability to sweat and sunken eyes. Fever, and chills; common in hyperthermia, are also symptoms of severe dehydration.
Some other symptoms include:
• A weak pulse
• Bloody or black stools
• Fits (seizures)
• Inability to keep down fluids
• Moderate to severe diarrhea for more than 24 hours

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms seek medical attention. To prevent dehydration, it important to include drinking water into your daily routine. Keeping a water bottle close is always a good start. It is especially important to intake fluid before, during and after exercise to replenish the water lost through sweating. Other tips for preventing dehydration include removing excess salt from your diet and reducing intake of alcohol, caffeine and high-protein foods. Ultimately, listen to your body it will tell you when you need water.

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