Chronic dehydration is often hard to recognize on your own. Water makes up two-thirds of our bodies. It is important to replenish your body with water. Water plays an immense role in your bodily functions, making it an essential element of life. Water keeps our skin healthy, proper digestion, lubrication of the joints (cartilage), purifying our bodies of toxins, healthy nails and more.
All your body needs to do is lose up to two percent of its water to feel thirsty. Many people experience mild dehydration, but chronic dehydration can be life-threatening. Besides the most common symptom of thirst, there are additional symptoms you should be aware of.
Thirst is often confused with hunger. When your body is dehydrated, it is actually craving water rich foods. Your cravings may also change. Due to the lack of water, your body isn’t able to produce glycogen. Glycogen serves as a form of energy storage in humans. Instead of consuming healthy options, you may crave sugar treats, sodium and carbs due to the lack of glycogen production.
Muscle Cramps, Joint Pain or Stiffness
Cartilage is composed of mostly water. When your body is experiencing dehydration, it takes water from non-lifesaving areas including the cartilage. Without joint lubrication, your joints will rub against each other causing friction and pain. Muscles also need water to function properly. Whether you’re physically active or not, lack of fluids in the muscles will cause them to cramp due to the lack of muscle elasticity.
Your skin is often the first site of dehydration. When your skin is dehydrated, depending on your skin type, it may create more oil to make up for the missing water. Other skin types may not be able to produce enough oil to lubricate the skin without proper hydration. Dehydration can also cause the skin to not properly eliminate toxins. This can lead to dermatitis, psoriasis, sensitive skin and/or discoloration.
Bladder or Kidney Malfunction
Chronic dehydration can cause kidney stones, urinary tract infections, and even kidney failure. Water helps flush calcium, oxalate and uric acid.
If you’re feeling constipated, your first thought may be to use over-the-counter solutions. In reality, you may be experiencing chronic dehydration. Water keeps the food you ingest moving through your intestines and it keeps your intestines flexible. When you have chronic dehydration, your intestines will absorb water from the food creating harden stool.
Skin begins to wrinkle prematurely when chronically dehydrated. What many people don’t think about is your internal organs also begin to wither. As we age, our bodies naturally lose water, so it becomes even more important to stay hydrated as you get older. The most inexpensive method to reduce or slow wrinkles is to drink water.
Headaches or Dizziness
When your brain tissue loses water, this causes your brain to shrink and pull away from your skull. Pain receptors surrounding your brain are triggered causing a headache. Water also helps with proper blood flow and oxygen to the brain. Those with chronic dehydration may also experience fogginess and a lack of concentration.
Bad Breath and Dry Mouth
When you don’t drink enough water, your mouth can’t produce enough saliva to rid itself of bacteria. Saliva doesn’t only keep your mouth moist, it is your bodies cleaning agent.
One of the earliest signs of chronic dehydration is the feeling of fatigue. Water is very important for energy in the body. Dehydration of the tissues causes enzymatic activity to slow down. So, before you decide you need a nap or caffeine, drink water. You may feel an improvement in your energy.
Your stomach needs water to produce and secrete mucous. This secretion protects your stomach from being eroded by the acidic digestive fluid it produces.
One of the easiest ways to check your hydration level is to check your urine. If it’s clear, you’re doing great. If it’s dark, you may be dehydrated. Try not to base your hydration level on how many times you go to the restroom. If you consumed caffeinated beverages, you may be using the restroom due to their diuretic effects. Remember, nothing beats plain H2O.