Water is essential for life and survival. It plays a critical role in various bodily functions and processes that keep you alive, including:
- Regulating your body temperature
- Facilitates digestion and nutrient absorption
- Eliminating waste and toxic substances from the body
- Protecting your tissues, joints, and spinal cord
- Preventing constipation
- Improving blood and oxygen circulation
- Increasing energy levels
- Maximizing physical performance
- Improving mood and cognitive function
- Keeping skin healthy
- Losing weight and maintaining a healthy weight
How much water should you drink?
Your body constantly loses water mainly through sweat and urine. To avoid dehydration, you have to drink enough.
According to health experts, eight glasses of water or about two liters of water is the recommended amount of water to drink per day. This should be enough to keep your body going and replenish the water lost throughout the day. And, if you work out regularly or are an athlete, you have to drink more as your body loses more water because of more physical activity.
What is dehydration?
Dehydration is a condition in which your body loses or uses up more fluid than it takes in, preventing it from carrying out its important functions. It can strike anyone and is especially hazardous for young kids and the elderly.
In children, dehydration is primarily caused by vomiting and severe diarrhea, while in the elderly, it is mainly due to certain medications that they may be taking to treat or manage an illness.
Other possible causes of dehydration are:
Generally, having a high fever makes a person dehydrated. The situation gets even worse if the fever is accompanied by vomiting and diarrhea too.
Certain health problems, such as diabetes, and some medications, such as diuretics, can make a person urinate more frequently. If a person fails to drink enough water to make up for the fluids lost, he or she will be dehydrated.
Engaging in strenuous activities, such as running, playing basketball or football, or construction work, can make you sweat so much. And, if the weather is hot and humid, you sweat even a lot more. If you do not drink water to replace the lost fluids, you can end up being dehydrated.
What are the common signs and symptoms of dehydration?
You should not rely on thirst as an indicator that you have to drink more water because it is not infallible at all. Dehydration can strike a person even without causing thirst, so it can sneak up on you and do some damage before you realize it.
Below are the common warning signs of dehydration that you should watch out for:
- Dry mouth
- Dry tongue
- Absence of tears when crying
- Less frequent urination
- Urine that has a dark color
- Bloody stool
- Diarrhea for 24 hours or longer
It is crucial to seek medical care right away to treat the problem before it gets more complicated.
What complications can occur due to dehydration?
Failure to treat dehydration at the earliest opportunity can lead to severe health problems and complications, such as:
If you are dehydrated, your body’s electrolyte levels get messed up. As a result, your electrolytes cannot efficiently deliver and transmit electrical signals between your cells and cause involuntary muscle contractions.
This is a medical condition that occurs when your body is overheated because of excessive physical exertion or prolonged exposure to high temperatures. It can cause various symptoms, such as nausea and vomiting, rapid breathing, increased heart rate, and headaches, and can lead to organ damage or even death if not treated right away.
Water is vital to the excretion of wastes out of your body, so if you do not drink enough water, toxins and other substances can remain and accumulate inside your body and form kidney stones, leading to severe kidney issues like kidney failure.
This is a serious medical condition in which the heart loses its ability to pump enough blood due to severe fluid loss. It can cause your vital organs to stop working, and even lead to death. Its usual signs and symptoms are rapid heartbeat, low blood pressure, rapid and shallow breathing, exhaustion, no or little urine, and cool or clammy skin.
What is the best treatment for dehydration?
Replacing the lost fluids and electrolytes is the best treatment for dehydration. Your doctor may recommend you drink not only water but also rehydration solutions that can replenish your body faster.
Usually, these rehydration solutions consist of fluids and electrolytes and are available over-the-counter. Depending on the severity of your dehydration, your doctor may recommend taking the medication several times a day for a particular period of time.
In severe cases of dehydration, emergency treatment is necessary. The patient has to be taken to an emergency room so that fluids and salts can be introduced into his or her body intravenously or by injecting through a vein, allowing the body to absorb the fluids faster.
What should you do to prevent dehydration?
Dehydration can be very dangerous. It can affect your brain, heart, kidneys, and other vital organs, and even lead to death. So, to protect yourself, here are some tips on how you can prevent dehydration:
Drink lots of water
Make sure to drink 8 glasses of water a day or more, depending on your level of physical activity or if you have diarrhea, fever, or some illness that can increase your risk of being dehydrated.
Eat fruits and vegetables with high-water content
Watermelons, strawberries, oranges, cantaloupes, peaches, cabbage, cauliflower, bell peppers, lettuce, zucchini, tomatoes, and cucumber are just a few examples of nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables that can keep you hydrated.
Cut down on your caffeine and alcohol intake
Coffee, soft drinks, beer, and other beverages that contain caffeine or alcohol have a diuretic effect, which means they can make your body produce more urine, resulting in more fluid loss.