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Beyond Thirst: Signs You’re Dehydrated

thirsty hotThe average human is about 60% water. True. Dehydration (when your body does not have enough water to function properly) can cause blood clots, seizures, and other potentially fatal health issues. That’s unfortunately true, too.

In fact, even mild dehydration can cause problems, so everyone should know about the not-so-obvious signs of dehydration that don’t include being thirsty.

  1. Fatigue: Being even mildly dehydrated can affect your moods and energy levels.
  1. Increased appetite or cravings: dehydration impacts your body’s nutrients and organs, like the liver, that use water to release energy stores. Though you might crave almost anything, hunger for something sweet is common because your body is having difficulty producing glycogen. So, while something sweet may satisfy you in one way, it may be that what your body really needs is water.
  1. Headaches: the human brain is big, and it requires a lot of water to keep it sitting comfortably in your skull.
  1. Dry skin: while hot weather makes you sweat, losing too much results in the opposite of what you might think. By the way, you can find yourself dehydrated in colder weather as well as hot days. If you’re really dehydrated, the hair on your skin may stand on end. One easy test to help you see if you’re dehydrated is to pinch the skin on the back of your hand. If it bounces back in a few seconds, your fine. If it doesn’t return quickly to normal, you’re probably dehydrated.
  1. Muscle cramps: while heat and exertion may be enough to cause cramping muscles, reductions in blood volume with exercise and sweating can cause imbalances in electrolytes, like sodium and potassium.
  1. Fever and chills: as counter-intuitive as it sounds, extreme dehydration can cause a dangerous spike in your body temperature. With a fever over 101 degrees F, you may need medical attention.
  1. Darker urine: if you’re reasonably well-hydrated, your urine will be clear with perhaps a tinge of yellow. If you’re dehydrated, it gets more yellow, and the more dehydrated you are, the darker it becomes. Orange urine (or not having to go at all over a lengthy period) indicates severe dehydration.

water spigotStaying Hydrated

  1. Keep a water bottle handy and sip regularly. Room temperature water is best for absorption by your stomach.
  1. Drink more at mealtimes.
  1. Eat fruit. Apples, oranges and other delectable fruit is not only good for you and good tasting but also contains lots of water.
  1. Try some of the sugar-free flavorings for water available at your supermarket. Or, pop a piece of fruit into your water for added flavor. You might also try caffeine free teas. Steer clear of caffeinated beverages, however, as they are a diuretic and tend to exacerbate dehydration.

How much water you need on a daily basis varies widely depending on your gender, your activity level, environment, and your body size. If you regularly experience any of the above symptoms, however, it’s a safe bet you don’t currently get enough.

 

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