○ 6 min read
Dehydration: Signs, Symptoms, and How to Reverse It
You’ve probably heard it a thousand times. Drink water. Stay hydrated. It can be easy to brush it off or simply forget after a while. Although hydration is such a basic fundamental of good health, people don’t always pay attention to this ultra-important suggestion. With all of the distractions in our busy lives, it can be easy to tune out the body’s cues that we are getting dehydrated. Some of the signs of early-stage dehydration might just seem like everyday stuff, and not everyone is aware that there is a connection.
What Is Dehydration?
Dehydration happens when your body loses more fluids than it is taking in. The dehydration process begins in the extracellular matrix, which is the fluid that your cells are floating around in, and then if it continues to progress, it will start to deplete the cells themselves. Many people live their lives in a constant state of low-level dehydration, but more depletion can quickly turn into adverse territory and cause unwanted health complications. With so much of our bodily functions relying on water (pretty much everything), even low levels of dehydration can spell disaster for everyday activities and performance levels.
Causes of Dehydration
Certain activities, hot or dry weather, sugary and salty foods, and a range of other causes can cause dehydration. Electrolyte imbalances are at the core of it. The cells get to the point of not being able to absorb the fluid due to having the wrong ratios of sodium, potassium, and other minerals that function as electrolytes.
Typical causes of dehydration include:
♦ Vigorous activity
♦ Not drinking enough water
♦ Eating sugary or salty foods
♦ Drinking too much alcohol
♦ Drinking too much coffee/tea
♦ The use of certain medications
Unexpected causes of dehydration include:
♦ Extended exposure to the sun/dry weather
Symptoms of Dehydration
Some of the earliest signs of dehydration, which you may even be experiencing at this moment, may go unnoticed and, if you aren’t vigilant, could lead to full-on dehydration symptoms. People just learn to live with some of these common signs of everyday dehydration and never make the connection that it is possibly the lack of fluids in the body leading to their lower quality of life.
The first signs of dehydration are generally mild and sometimes missed.
♦ Foggy thinking
♦ Dry skin
♦ Craving Sweets
♦ Dry mouth or tongue
More progressed symptoms of dehydration are warning signs that it’s time to seek help.
♦ Muscle cramping
♦ Dizziness or confusion
♦ Darkened urine or reduced urine output
♦ Fatigue, weakness, or feeling lethargic
♦ Extreme thirst
If dehydration goes unresolved, it can lead to health complications, including:
♦ Kidney problems
♦ Hypovolemic shock
Some people are more at risk for dehydration than others and need to be extra careful to avoid it.
♦ Older people, especially the elderly
♦ Babies & children
♦ Those with certain medical concerns
♦ Athletes & fitness enthusiasts
♦ People with strenuous occupations or who work outside
As complex dehydration must usually be treated with medical attention, the best strategy is to avoid it altogether. Although there are always unforeseen circumstances, being prepared can help to keep your cells happy and hydrated.
Tips to Manage Hydration
♦ Bring water or hydrating drinks with you. Everywhere you go, if possible.
♦ Eat a lot of fruits and veggies. They naturally contain water and electrolytes.
♦ Manage healthy salt levels. Too much can cause dehydration, but not enough can throw off electrolyte levels.
♦ Avoid sugary foods. Yes, sugar is dehydrating!
♦ Hydrate preventatively. Make it a part of your pre-workout strategy!
♦ Consume plenty of electrolytes. Sometimes water just isn’t enough!
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The Essential Element
Keeping hydrated can change how you feel and how you function. It can make a huge difference in your workout and even help you have more energy and focus. Some signs you are on the verge of dehydration aren’t always recognized for what they are, so prevention is definitely the best strategy. Keeping water and electrolyte drinks on hand can go a long way on the road to healthy living. It’s simple to do, and once you get in the habit, it will become second nature. Prioritizing your health comes in many forms, and this one should be at the top of the list!