You may already know that water is a great natural aid for weight loss because it’s calorie-free and filling, but did you know that its benefits go much further? More than half of your body weight is water, and losing even a small amount of water can have severe health consequences because water is vital for every cell in your body to function. The effects of dehydration can occur within hours of not getting enough fluid, so be sure to know the symptoms and how much fluid you need.
Causes and Risk Factors
Dehydration occurs when your body loses more water that it needs than you take in. This can happen if you forget to drink enough or you have trouble swallowing. You need extra fluid during a fever, when you have diarrhea or you are vomiting and when you sweat profusely. You can lose extra fluids in your urine and be at risk for dehydration if you have diabetes. Children and older adults are at higher risk for dehydration because they have smaller bodies and may not recognize their thirst very soon.
You may be dehydrated if you have a dry mouth and cracked lips. Feelings of fatigue and muscle weakness may prevent you from completing your workout or even going about your regular business. Dizziness, confusion and loss of coordination are also symptoms of dehydration. Urine becomes dark yellow and output decreases, eyes look sunken and you have poor skin tone.
Symptoms of more advanced dehydration include low blood pressure, especially when standing up, shock and a rapid heart rate. Your kidneys are responsible for filtering waste from your blood, and if dehydration is not treated, you may have kidney failure. Irreversible kidney failure requires dialysis or a kidney transplant.
Drinking fluids can reverse mild dehydration. More severe dehydration may require intravenous fluid and electrolyte solutions. Should you experience symptoms of kidney failure, a hospital with specialists experienced in treating kidney disorders, such as the IU Health Riley Hospital for Children and the regular IU Health University Hospital for adults can provide you or a loved one with both advice and medical services.
The way to prevent dehydration is to get enough fluid throughout the day. You need at least 12 to 15 8-ounce cups of water per day. You need more if you have a fever and when intense exercise, especially in hot or windy weather, makes you sweat heavily. During exercise, you need about one cup of water every 15 to 20 minutes.
Carrying a water bottle with you during the day can help remind you to drink more often. If you don’t like plain water, though, other options can help you meet your fluid needs. Other beverages, such as milk, juice, sports drinks and tea, provide just as much fluid as water. Limit your alcohol and caffeine intake to no more than a moderate amount. Watery foods, such as fruits, broth-based soups and vegetables, also help prevent dehydration.
If you are unsure whether you are getting enough to drink, try keeping a log of your fluid intake. When you are sick, be especially careful to get enough fluids. It’s easy to become dehydrated without feeling it. Create habits that ensure you get your daily water intake, and soon you won’t need to pay such close attention to your intake.
About the author: Derrick Cruise is a professional writer living in the Indianapolis area. He specializes in health and fitness articles.