Water is probably the one drink that we overlook when wanting to quench our thirst. Water is required for every process of our body, so dehydration can occur in any circumstance. Try drinking a little water if you are feeling fatigue, drowsiness, inattention or just general malaise. Staying fully hydrated will help you feel good and focused.
Severe dehydration has many signs that can cause that dreaded visit to the hospital or ambulatory services. Usually a significant drop in blood pressure is due to lack of volume of water. You will be getting less oxygen and blood to get to where they need to be, which will force the heart and lungs to work overtime. Your body works hard to cool itself and fever sets in, followed by unconsciousness.
If you are a coffee drinker, it is an astringent, and smoke can cause minor burns, camouflaging the feeling of thirst you may be feeling in your mouth. Only water can do the best job for you in hydrating your body. Follow your body signals. Do not confuse thirst and hunger, so always try some water first before that vending machine.
Lack of water can make you itch and uncomfortable. The dryness can also be prevalent in the skin as chronic dehydration takes its toll with dry and flaky skin, slow healing wounds and maybe even bruising can be partly explained by a lack of water. Our body excretions can tell us a lot about what it needs. Urine can give us some hints about our health and stool can almost be read like a book with the right training. Urine, when healthy, will be a pale yellow to almost clear. The darker yellow it is, the more water your body needs. If the urine is any other color, you need to see your doctor.
The mind and everything it entails takes up to 80% of the food, water and oxygen we take in. However, the brain makes a huge fuss over little things so a small drop in body water mass can cause a big headache. When water levels drop and your brain starts to panic, it will neglect some of the more superfluous responsibilities like balance, eyesight and comprehension needed for the bare necessities for survival.
You might be left feeling dizzy and your inner ears struggle to cope with the limited resources.
Nausea is common when confronting severe dehydration. Even though not common, severe lack of water can cause diarrhea. The most common form of diarrhea is caused by a bacterium that secretes substances that draw water into the intestines. The water is flushed from your body, dehydrating you quickly. Children and the elderly are most susceptible and should be kept in mind in this respect.
If you feel you are slower than usual, it just might be your water intake. If you are taking a dietary fiber supplement, you should double your daily amount of water.
You can do a simple test to gauge your hydration, even though everyone is different. Place your hand in front of you, palm down, and spread your fingers. Then pinch the skin gently of the first knuckle, parallel to the finger and let go. If the skin snaps back as elastic back to its shape, you’re hydrated, but if the skin stays pinched, you probably need more water. This is in no way a diagnosis, but a helpful hint.
Try taking some time when you’re bored and your curiosity is at a peak to find your “healthy normal” by doing some knuckle pinching, urine color classification and some good old water!
-Dr Fredda Branyon