Water, agua, H2O - it surrounds us every day, and even makes up roughly 60% of our bodies, so it's no wonder things go wrong when there isn't enough of it around. Dehydration occurs when our body is releasing more fluids (either through urine, vomit, or sweat) than it is taking in. As the weather gets warmer and we do more activities outside, it's important to make sure you give your body all the water it needs to stay healthy. Dehydration doesn't seem like something you need to worry about unless you're wandering through the desert or stranded at sea, but you'd be surprised by just how quickly it can sneak up on you.
If left untreated, dehydration begins to disrupt the body's metabolic processes and can lead to conditions like hypernatremia, or an excess of sodium in the blood. Luckily, dehydration is easy to spot thanks to these 10 warning signs that our bodies give off. Whether you're working outside on a hot day or just recently experienced an illness that caused a lot of fluids to evacuate your body (to put it politely), dehydration is something you should be on the lookout for.
If you spot one or more of the following warning signs, be sure to contact your physician and reach for a tall glass of water. Remember, the best way to treat dehydration is by preventing it, so we've included some helpful tips for staying hydrated at the end of this list.
1. Increased Heart Rate
Your heart is in charge of keeping blood flowing to every other part of your body, and water has a big impact on how well it can do this. If your body isn't getting enough water, your blood becomes thicker, requiring your heart to work harder to pump it. This leads to increased heart rate and a higher level of stress on your body.
2. Bad Breath And Dry Mouth
Next time your breath is a little smelly, you might want to drink a glass of water instead of reaching for a mint. Water stimulates your body's production of saliva, which is a natural antibacterial. Saliva also helps keep your mouth from becoming too dry.
3. Sudden Food Cravings
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Craving peanut butter and anchovies in the middle of the afternoon? Chances are, you're either pregnant or dehydrated, and, depending on your current situation, it's hard to tell which one is scarier. Our bodies often think we're hungry when what we're actually experiencing is thirst. It's usually a good idea to drink a glass of water before consuming any meal.
4. Joint And Muscle Pain
The cartilage and joints in your body are comprised of 80% water, so you've got to stay hydrated to keep everything running smoothly. Water lessens the friction between bones and also helps reduce muscle cramps.
5. Intense Headaches
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Perhaps the most tell-tale sign of dehydration is a headache. When your body is short on water, there is a decrease in the fluid that surrounds your brain, making it more susceptible to aches and pains. Additionally, dehydration makes it harder for oxygen and blood to flow to the brain.
6. Upset Stomach
Water helps keep your gastrointestinal tract healthy, which reduces the likelihood of constipation and makes bowel movements easier. When your body is low on fluids, your body will have a harder time digesting food and your stool will become hard.