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The Symptoms of Dehydration You Didn't Know You Had

You probably already know you should drink more while doing strenuous exercise or when the weather is hot to avoid dehydration. You may even chant "stay hydrated" to yourself like a mantra. But dehydration can happen at any time, not just when you are sweating a lot. All of us can start to experience symptoms of dehydration, and often these symptoms are subtle and go unnoticed. Unfortunately, we tend to forget how important it is to stay hydrated, especially when ill or under stress. And the consequences could be devastating.

Water makes up approximately 83% of your lungs, 79% of your kidneys, 64% of your skin, and 73% of your brain. And it is critical to making all of these organs work properly. This is why, in addition to looking at the symptoms of dehydration and what to do about them, you also need to understand what dehydration is and what it does to your body.

Symptoms of Dehydration

An image of a woman in bed reaching for a glass of waterYour body can show many symptoms of dehydration. By paying attention, you can stop dehydration before it causes any major damage.

Some possible symptoms of dehydration include:

  • Thirst, dry mouth, or a dry cough
  • Fatigue
  • Headache, confusion, or delirium
  • Feeling dizzy, light-headed, or weak
  • Loss of appetite
  • Sugar cravings
  • Urine that is dark in color
  • Low blood pressure coupled with a higher heart rate
  • Swollen feet/ankles
  • Muscle cramps
  • Flushed skin
  • Intolerance of heat or cold
  • Confusion
  • Constipation
  • Anxiety

How Do You Get Dehydrated?

We all need water to survive. When thirsty, we find something to drink. This hydrates us. Yet we constantly lose water. It leaves through sweating, urinating, and breathing. And we also lose water through throwing up or diarrhea.

Often, you may not feel thirsty. But you can still be dehydrated.

What many people forget about dehydration is that water is not the only factor involved. Electrolytes like potassium and salt are important as well. Your body needs these electrolytes due to the many functions they have in your body. These include your ability to move, talk, and breathe, amongst many others. A salt and potassium imbalance, along with dehydration, are also common signs of adrenal crises. So, besides upping your water intake, you should also look at your salt and potassium intake when faced with dehydration.

Certain medications, such as those prescribed for high blood pressure and heart disease, could also increase your dehydration risk. If you suffer from these conditions and take diuretic medications, you may need to take extra steps to ensure sufficient water and electrolyte intake.

How Does Dehydration Affect Your Body?

Water makes up sixty percent of your body mass. It, together with the electrolyte salt, for example, plays a significant role in both cognitive and physical functions. Limiting your water, salt, and other electrolyte intake could result in cognitive impairment. This is because severe dehydration causes blood vessels to shrink, thereby reducing the sufficient flow of blood, oxygen, and other essential nutrients to the brain.

Dehydration also decreases the effectiveness of many key physiological functions. These include kidney function, the body’s ability to eliminate waste and toxins, the transmission of nerve impulses throughout the body, balancing acidic compounds, maintaining blood volume, and cell membrane health. Imbalances in any of these could severely impact your overall health and even lead to death.

Imbalances in these bodily systems could also worsen adrenal fatigue. Thus, a healthy intake of water and electrolytes is essential for maintaining healthy bodily functions.

How Dehydration Affects Your Liver and Bioenergetics

Your liver is part of the Bioenergetics circuit, which also includes the pancreas and thyroid gland. Disruption here could be one of the symptoms of dehydration. The aim of this circuit, which is part of your NeuroEndoMetabolic (NEM) stress response, is to produce the energy needed by every cell and organ system to function properly. But what does the functioning of this system have to do with dehydration?

Your liver sifts toxins from your blood and then expels them via your kidneys. It also plays a role in hormone regulation, digestion, and your body’s ability to metabolize certain substances. Studies show that dehydration causes a buildup of toxins in your liver because your blood becomes too thick for your liver to filter it properly. If left unchecked, it could result in liver disease, bowel disease, and other health issues.

But often, medical problems are not this simple.

Let us say you have diabetes due to compromised pancreas function. People with diabetes tend to have a higher risk of dehydration. At the same time, this also raises your risk of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. So, if you are diabetic, you may have to keep an extra close eye out for symptoms of dehydration because of the increased risks involved.

Obesity is also linked to dehydration and metabolic dysregulation. According to the literature, it has many links to metabolic disorders, which point to an imbalanced Bioenergetics circuit. And researchers have also found a link between obesity and dehydration showing that those with a higher BMI tend to drink less water than people constantly hydrated. And obesity is also one of the leading causes of type-2 diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure.

All these health issues also relate to adrenal fatigue. This is why ensuring a steady intake of water and electrolytes may help reduce the impact of adrenal fatigue.

Tips to Avoid Dehydration

An image of a woman drinking water with herbsFirstly, you can help prevent dehydration by drinking enough fluids and eating plenty of fruits and vegetables. If you are a healthy adult, your thirst should let you know when you need more water. However, this isn't always the case. It is often a good idea to ensure that you are consuming water and electrolytes throughout the day regardless. Consider connecting water drinking with your routine during the day. For example, drink a 16 ounce glass when you wake and before each meal to ensure you're getting at least 64 ounces in a day.

Dehydration often occurs in ill children, especially when coupled with diarrhea or vomiting. Consider oral rehydration solutions when illness crops up, and make drinking water a priority. The same applies to older adults who could lose much of their body moisture during times of illness.

Dehydration occurs in both hot and chilly weather. The latter often sees a loss of moisture in dryer air, while the former could see a spike in body temperature and water loss through sweating.

Another culprit, exercise, often causes a spike in temperature and loss of fluid due to sweating. You should up your fluid intake before, during, and after exercising to combat the possibility of dehydration.

In Closing

The symptoms of dehydration, if not adequately addressed, could result in potential health issues. If showing symptoms of chronic dehydration, here is what you can do to help alleviate the situation.

  • Regularly rehydrate with a water and electrolyte solution.
  • Regularly eat plenty of fruit and vegetables with high water content.
  • See a doctor to find out whether underlying causes like diabetes or current medications could contribute to dehydration.

If you would like to know more about or feel you need assistance with regards to the symptoms of dehydration, the team at Dr. Lam Coaching can help. We offer a free** no-obligation phone consultation at +1 (626) 571-1234 where we will privately discuss your concerns and workable solutions. You can also send us a question through our Ask The Doctor system by clicking here.

© Copyright 2022 Michael Lam, M.D. All Rights Reserved.

Dr. Lam’s Key Question

Indirectly, the symptoms of dehydration can contribute to adrenal fatigue or at the very least worsen the condition. This is because your body needs fluids and electrolytes to ensure the proper functioning of many body processes essential to your health.

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