6 Signs You Are Dehydrated + How to Rehydrate
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Staying hydrated is essential for proper health. After all, the adult human body is approximately 60% water, with the lungs being 843% water, and the brain and heart being about 73% water.
This means you need a lot of water to help regulate your body temperature, lubricate your joints, moisten tissues in the eyes, nose, and mouth, regulate body temperature, and flush out waste products.
Adequate fluid intake should be a top priority, but many people don’t drink enough fluids regularly, which could lead to long-term dehydration.
Not consuming enough fluids isn’t the only way to become dehydrated. Other conditions like excessive sweating, vomiting, diarrhea, and even diabetes mellitus can cause dehydration.
Dehydration can be a serious condition, and when left unaddressed, it can potentially become life-threatening. Therefore, knowing the signs and symptoms of dehydration is important to be proactive about your health.
If you are dehydrated, you may find yourself suffering from headaches more often. If you remember that the brain is 73% water, then this makes more sense. One study found that dehydration causes hypertonicity of the brain, which leads to a condition called “brain dehydration.”
This means that the structures in the brain, blood vessels, and areas of the brain that sense pain, become tighter due to water loss which increases pressure on these areas causing headaches.
Interestingly enough, this same study showed that pain perception was increased in dehydrated individuals, meaning that if you are dehydrated, you are more likely to experience pain more intensely than when adequately hydrated.
Dehydration has been linked to fatigue. One study found that female hockey athletes that didn’t drink water throughout a simulated hockey exercise found that they were more fatigued than when maintaining proper hydration.
This same study also showed that these athletes had trouble maintaining a lower core body temperature, which meant that they perceived themselves as becoming hotter quicker.
This change in the body’s temperature regulation due to dehydration can lead to a greater feeling of fatigue as well.
3. Brain Fog and Confusion
Brain fog and cognitive decline can be symptoms of dehydration with serious confusion occurring in older individuals.
A meta-analysis found that dehydration that results in a loss of 2% or greater of body mass caused a whole host of poor cognitive outcomes.
These troublesome symptoms of dehydration included: slower reaction times, impaired motor control, less accurate short-term memory, and poorer ability to pay attention.
4. Skin Issues
Some may find it surprising that dehydration can be a problem for the skin, but the skin is one of the major organs affected by lowered fluid intake.
Studies show that dehydration is linked to skin issues like dryness and roughness. These same studies show that increased fluid intake showed greater skin elasticity, usually linked to healthier more youthful skin.
Skin turgor, the ability of the skin to stretch and return to its shape, is also drastically negatively affected by dehydration, especially in moderate to severe cases.
This means that pinching and releasing a portion of skin on the body, like the forearm, will lead to the skin not returning to its prior shape immediately.
5. Dark Urine/ Decreased Urine Output
The average amount of urine output for an individual with a 2-liter fluid intake is between 800-2000 milliliters in 24 hours.
Any urine output under this volume can be a sign of dehydration. Another sign of dehydration is discolored or dark urine.
Urine in a well-hydrated person should be a light or pale straw color, but in a dehydrated person, urine becomes a darker color and sometimes brown in tint.
Darker-colored urine means that your body is saving water and your urine contains more waste products.
6. Dry Mouth and Increased Thirst
Having a dry mouth and an increased desire to consume fluids can be a sign of dehydration. Adequate fluid intake helps to maintain proper mucus membrane surface integrity like the insides of the nose and eyes.
These mucus membranes serve as the first line of defense against foreign invaders in the body that help to prevent pathogens from gaining access.
When dehydrated, the mucus membranes tend to dry out and lead to a sensation of dry mouth.
Increased thirst is one of the biggest signs that the brain is signaling the body to replenish lost fluids. A sense of hunger can also be a sign of dehydration if you aren’t sure of your thirst cues.
Knowing the signs of dehydration can be helpful to prevent its occurrence, but what can be done to help optimally rehydrate the body?
Rehydration is a process that involves replacing the fluids that the body has lost. This can be done in different ways ranging from intravenous (IV) administration of fluids to oral rehydration or drinking to replace fluid loss.
While drinking fluids regularly is the best way to rehydrate, you can help to optimize the rehydration process by using reusable water bottles, taking electrolytes and branch chain amino acids, getting collagen peptides, consuming more fresh fruits and vegetables, and avoiding sun exposure.
1. Reusable Water Bottles
For some drinking water or fluids regularly can be difficult due to forgetfulness, lack of time, or ready access to drinking water.
This is where a high-quality reusable water bottle comes in. Remembering to drink fluids is a lot easier with a functional stylish reusable water bottle on your desk as opposed to walking down the hall to the water cooler.
Having a portable reusable water bottle with you wherever you go can serve as a reminder to consume healthy beverages more regularly, which would help to prevent dehydration while also being more friendly to the environment than single-use water bottles.
Sometimes just drinking plain water isn’t enough to adequately rehydrate the body. This is especially true if you have had excessive water loss through sweat.
When there has been excessive sweat loss, a loss of electrolytes occurs as well. Electrolytes are essential minerals like sodium, calcium, and potassium that are essential for proper body function.
These minerals help to balance the amount of water in the body, move nutrients into the cell, waste out of the cell, balance the body’s acid/base levels, and ensure that the heart, brain, muscles, and nerves are all working properly.
When rehydrating after excessive sweating, choosing to add electrolytes to your water could help improve any electrolyte imbalances while improving dehydration faster than plain water.
3. Branch Chain Amino Acids
Another great option to rehydrate is branch chain amino acids (BCAAs). BCAAs are essential amino acids or protein building blocks (valine, leucine, and isoleucine) that help improve muscle soreness, increase muscle growth, and help to diminish fatigue.
Studies suggest that BCAAs may also improve dehydration better than flavored water and carbohydrate-specific sports drinks. One study showed that athletes who drank an amino acid electrolyte beverage containing BCAAs had better cellular rehydration status than athletes that just drank flavored water or carbohydrate-based sports drinks.
4. Consuming More High Water Content Fresh Fruits and Veggies
While drinking fluids may be the best way to prevent dehydration, eating lots of fresh fruits and vegetables with a high water content can help improve hydration status as well.
Studies show that eating fresh fruits and vegetables like watermelon, cucumbers, cantaloupe, and celery was able to improve hydration status and was associated with an increase in water consumption.
5. Avoiding Excess Sun Exposure
While avoiding sun exposure isn’t necessarily a way to rehydrate, it can help prevent dehydration and heatstroke from occurring.
Heatstroke is a condition in which the body temperature rises rapidly, the ability to sweat is impaired, and the body then becomes unable to cool down.
Avoiding unnecessary sun exposure can also prevent skin dehydration, which is associated with dullness, sunken eyes, and a tendency to experience more wrinkles.
An interesting study done on mice found that oral intake of collagen peptides helped to rehydrate the skin after being exposed to harmful ultraviolet B, UVB, and solar radiation.
Also, making sure to always wear protective sunscreen when outdoors can help prevent skin dehydration and more serious skin damage.
Dehydration is a serious condition that can become life-threatening if left unaddressed. Some of the signs and symptoms associated with dehydration include headaches, fatigue, brain fog, skin issues, dark urine, and a dry mouth. Fortunately, you have many options when it comes to rehydration including using reusable water bottles, getting electrolytes, taking branch chain amino acids, eating more fish fruits, and vegetables with high water content, taking collagen peptides, and avoiding sun exposure.
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