Dehydration is a state where the body does not have the necessary amount of water to function optimally. Poor hydration is due to increased loss of water from the body compared to intake.
The body naturally loses water by sweating, urinating, and breathing. However, when such processes expel more water from the body than is consumed, the body begins to show symptoms of dehydration.
Symptoms of insufficient water in the body generally range from mild, moderate, or severe. Mild and moderate symptoms of poor hydration are treated through oral fluid intake, while severe dehydration often requires intravenous fluid replacement due to the urgency of the situation.
Causes of dehydration
All people are susceptible to poor hydration depending on the activities one engages in, but children are often at greater risk due to the condition. Outdoor physical activities such as sports and workouts can cause increased water loss from the body through sweating along with air enhancing evaporation.
Other conditions that can exacerbate dehydration include diarrhea, fever, and vomiting. Some people experience diarrhea, vomiting, and an upset stomach simultaneously, and this can lead to extremely high water loss.
Also, some diseases, such as diabetes, tend to cause increased urination and this can lead to loss of water from the body.
Some of the symptoms of poor hydration include:
- Low urine output.
- Abdominal pain
- Dry mouth and bad breath
- Extreme thirst
Mild symptoms occur when one loses about 2% of the body's optimal water content. In this case, the person experiences thirst and loss of appetite. If you are physically active during this period, you will have low stamina, fatigue, hot flashes, and experience an increased heart rate.
Moderate symptoms usually start with a water loss of about 5 to 6%, where you experience dizziness, headaches, tingling in the extremities, and high body temperature as the body loses its ability to cool itself through sweating.
Severe symptoms arise with a loss of around 10-15% in fluids, and in this case, you could experience low or no urination, poor vision, painful urination, wrinkled skin, muscle cramps, and delirium.
Symptoms that occur with a fluid loss greater than 15% often result in coma and death.
In adults, dehydration levels are often progressive due to poor nutritional habits. Many people train their bodies to consume little water to avoid frequent urination at work, school, and at bedtime. Consequently, you are unlikely to experience thirst and will not know when your body needs water. This progresses to the moderate stage where you experience dry skin, and if you do not mitigate the situation, the symptoms may be aggravated.
Pinch your skin
Studies show that you can test for lack of water by pinching your skin.
Hydrated skin returns to normal instantly after pinching, while dehydrated skin can appear carp-shaped and slowly return to normal. The color of your urine can also serve as an alarm to notify you of poor hydration. Normal urine should have a slight yellow tinge. If a person experiences poor hydration, they excrete deep yellow urine.
Dry mouth and bad breath are also symptoms of poor hydration. John P. Higgins, a professor of medicine at the University of Texas, noted that bad breath occurs when you don't produce enough saliva, leading to overgrowth of bacteria in your mouth.
Poor hydration: why the condition is dangerous
Interferes with kidney functions
The body experiences adverse medical conditions during dehydration, and the severity of the condition depends on the degree of poor hydration.
As the body loses water, it leads to an increase in the level of salts and minerals in the body. The salts and minerals crystallize and settle in the kidney, leading to the development of kidney stones. Kidney stones can cause episodes of painful urination and severe abdominal pain.
The remedy, in this case, is to consume large amounts of water to pass the stone easily. Poor hydration also inhibits the kidney's ability to pass enough wastes through urine.
Research also shows that when the body's cells do not have enough water, the brain commands increased production of vasopressin, a compound that leads to the contraction of the bile ducts in the liver, as well as the blood vessels. This contraction increases blood pressure and causes hypertension, while contraction of the bile ducts can lead to the development of gallstones.
Irregular body temperature
Poor hydration can also create a vicious cycle of fevers and chills. The lack of water in the body causes fevers and, subsequently, accelerates perspiration. Sweating leads to the loss of additional water and thus increases the severity of symptoms of poor hydration.
Heat injuries in the form of muscle cramps can also occur when one is exercising or working outdoors during hot weather. When you sweat without replacing the water, the muscles contract frequently and painfully due to increased sensitivity.
Other heat injuries include exhaustion and heat stroke, in severe cases. Additionally, it is crucial to note that you may also experience dehydration symptoms during cold weather if you do not consume enough water.
Original article (in English)