The adult human body contains an average of 60% of water. The water content can vary slightly among individuals based on sex, age, and hydration levels. Water is essential for one’s general health and without it, numerous bodily functions can’t happen. These include cellular functions, temperature regulation, and waste removal.
Water is necessary for one’s survival and one can maintain the balance of water in the body by drinking fluids all day long. Sometimes, people have low and insufficient water and other fluids in their bodies to carry out normal bodily functions. That’s when their fluid loss is more than their fluid intake. The loss of fluids usually is caused by sweating, urination, vomiting, or diarrhea, which is why it is important to watch out for fluid intake. In such a case, the body is said to be dehydrated.
Apart from the loss of water and other fluids, dehydration also means the loss of electrolytes such as salt and potassium. These electrolytes are required by the body to move, breath, talk, and perform all other things required to stay up and running. Mild dehydration is tolerable but inconvenient. Severe dehydration can result in potentially fatal complications such as blood clotting and convulsions. It can cause the heart rates to increase which could strain the heart more.
So, when does one get to know that the body is not having enough water and other fluids to function properly? Being thirsty is the most obvious sign, however, there are surprisingly more on the list. To avoid potential complications, it’s important to detect dehydration early by looking out for signs of dehydration and getting treated for it immediately.
Here are six unexpected signs and symptoms of dehydration that one must be aware of.
1. Bad Breath
Human saliva is known to have antibacterial properties. Saliva acts as a natural aid to prevent the overgrowth of bacteria in the mouth whose one of the side effects is bad-smelling breath. The production of saliva gets affected when the body is dehydrated. Hence, with not enough saliva the significant increase in bacterial growth inside the mouth would result in bad breath and an unpleasant taste. It’s just the same reason humans wake up in the morning with bad breath. Saliva production is insufficient or slows down during sleep. So, anyone whose mouth seems to be dry and whose breath smells weird or not fresh, it’s a sign of getting dehydrated.
2. Dry or Flushed Skin
Most people think that those who are dehydrated are usually experiencing excessive and continuous sweating. However, that’s not entirely true. Overexertion and hot weather lead to sweating and dehydration because of the loss of fluids. However, the skin can get extremely dry, flaky, itchy, and appear flushed and dull when one goes through multiple stages of dehydration to deprive the skin of its hydration. An unhealthy diet, weather changes, and more intake of alcohol and caffeine can deplete the water content of the skin.
3. Muscle Cramps
When one is not taking enough water and is continuing to perform any physical activity or is being in hot weather, dehydration and subsequent heating of the muscles will make it more likely for one to experience muscle cramps. The muscles can seize up from heat when they work harder. Also, dehydration results in loss of electrolytes like sodium and potassium which can provoke muscle cramps too. So, when rehydrating the body with drinks after exercises in hot or cold weather or being in hot weather, it’s important to go for electrolyte-filled refreshing drinks to rehydrate the body and reduce the likelihood of developing muscle cramps.
4. Fever and Chills
Anyone having severe dehydration is likely to experience fever and chills. These are the symptoms of heat illness when one would profusely sweat while the skin is cool to the touch. Fever further worsens dehydration which means with a high fever one would encounter higher dehydration. Unless the body temperature decreases, the skin would lose its cool clamminess and then turn out to be hot, flushed, and dry to the touch. If adults find their body temperature above 104 degree F, they must seek medical care as soon as possible to cool the body down. Dehydration can even be an ailment of pediatric patients (young children) due to various reasons including not drinking plenty of water or having fever, diarrhea, and vomiting.
5. Cravings for Sweets
When the body is dehydrated, it makes it difficult for the liver to release glycogen- the stored form of glucose, and other components of energy stores into the bloodstream to be used as energy fuel. This can trigger sugar cravings to restore normal blood sugar levels and provide a quick source of energy. Don’t go for a false sense of feeling hungry or having sugar cravings. It’s the time when the body needs water, so drink more water before reaching out for any sweets. Also, aim to drink ample water every day.
Mild dehydration can result in headaches that can become severe and even trigger migraine headaches. Headaches can be caused by various reasons and it’s hard to figure out the exact reason behind one’s headache. So, it’s always recommended to drink abundant water and maintain optimal hydration levels on daily basis throughout the day. This is the simple and safe approach to alleviate pain or prevent headaches if dehydration is a culprit.
So, how to confirm one is Dehydrated?
If one is thirsty, one is already said to be dehydrated. But, that’s not necessarily enough to conclude. Here are two ways to check for dehydration:
Self-Testing of the Skin:
It involves applying slight pressure to a small area of the skin using two fingers and letting it go immediately. If the skin stays tented after it’s pinched and takes more than a few seconds to spring back to a normal flat appearance, it’s an indication to drink adequate water and stay hydrated.
The dark yellow or orange color of urine is a warning sign of dehydration that one must watch out for. If the body is well-hydrated, urine is mostly clear with a tinge of yellow.