Dehydration: Symptoms, Causes, and How to Prevent It
Intro to Dehydration
Parched. Thirsty. Depleted. Weak. Dizzy.
If you've ever been dehydrated, you’ve likely felt all of these things either separately or all at once. Simply put, dehydration is defined as “the harmful reduction of the amount of water in the body.” In other words, you become dehydrated when you lose more fluid than you consume!
Because our bodies are 55-60% water, fluid intake is critical for maintaining our health and well being; our heart, brain, joints, and muscles need water to function properly. Water helps regulate body temperature, remove waste, and aid in digestion. Any time you exercise vigorously or are in a hot environment and sweat, you need to replace the fluids you lost quickly so that you don’t end up experiencing dehydration.
People can suffer from dehydration for a variety of reasons. The first and most common is not drinking enough fluids over the course of a day. Another is excessive sweating either from exercise and/or being in a very hot environment. Experiencing vomiting or diarrhea caused by food poisoning or the stomach flu can also lead to dehydration, as does taking certain medications.
Some of the symptoms of mild dehydration can include thirst, dry mouth, dizziness, headaches, fatigue, and dark urine. In severe cases of dehydration, symptoms can include heatstroke, kidney failure, and seizures. Whatever your level of fitness or exertion, for a healthy, hydrated mind and body, you can follow a simple rule throughout the day – drink at least 8 ounces of liquid every two hours or so. And the healthier that beverage, the better!
Symptoms of Dehydration
If you’ve ever experienced dehydration, you know that the symptoms are pretty unpleasant. In mild cases, dehydration can leave you feeling very thirsty; you will likely have a dry mouth and dark urine. In serious cases, you can experience headaches, dizziness, fatigue, muscle cramps, and an accelerated heart rate. Severe cases of dehydration can leave you with shortness of breath and feelings of confusion; it can also trigger fainting and loss of consciousness.
Complications of Severe Dehydration
Extreme or severe cases of dehydration can cause or lead to a variety of health complications, including heatstroke, kidney failure, and seizures. Heatstroke occurs when the body's temperature rises to dangerously high levels due to prolonged exposure to extreme heat or physical activity without proper hydration. Kidney failure occurs when the kidneys are unable to properly filter waste from the body, and seizures can happen when dehydration causes an imbalance in electrolytes.
Everyone’s body chemistry is different, and in situations of dehydration, some people may experience more severe symptoms than others, particularly those with certain medical conditions like diabetes, kidney disease, or alcoholism which can worsen symptoms. If you or someone you know experiences persistent symptoms of dehydration, it’s important to seek out medical help as quickly as possible so as not to put further strain on your body.
Causes of Dehydration
The most common cause of dehydration is not consuming enough water or fluids throughout the day, but there are other reasons people become dehydrated. These include excessive sweating from vigorous exercise or being in an extremely hot climate, vomiting and/or diarrhea caused by a virus or food poisoning, or taking certain medications.
Factors that Increase the Risk
There are several factors that can increase the risk of dehydration, such as age, climate, exercise, and medical conditions. Infants and young children are particularly susceptible to dehydration, as are older adults. Living in a hot or humid climate also factors into dehydration, as does engaging in physical activity without proper fluid replacement. Some medical conditions such as diabetes and kidney disease can also increase the risk.
Common Misconceptions about Hydration and Dehydration
While many people think they understand what dehydration is and what causes it, there are a few common misconceptions about it. First, many people believe that only athletes and those engaging in strenuous physical activity need to worry about staying hydrated, when in fact dehydration can occur in anyone, regardless of their activity level. Many people also believe that thirst is a reliable indicator of dehydration, but by the time you actually feel thirsty, you may already be mildly dehydrated.
The causes of dehydration can vary depending on the individual and the situation; Some people may be more susceptible to dehydration due to underlying medical conditions or medications they are taking. If you are concerned about your risk for dehydration, talk to your healthcare provider.
How to Prevent Dehydration
How Much Water the Body Needs Daily
Because water comprises half or more of our body composition, it’s important to stay hydrated throughout the day. Taking in an appropriate amount of fluids throughout the day brings many benefits, including: boosting energy levels, maintaining bodily functions, improving brain function, regulating body temperature, aiding digestion, preventing constipation, and supporting healthy, supple skin.
The general rule of thumb for the number of ounces of fluids you should consume on a daily basis is six to eight 8-ounce glasses per day.
Negative Effects of Dehydration
If you’re like many people who forget to hydrate over the course of the day, you will likely feel the negative effects of that, including: fatigue and sluggishness, headaches, dizziness or lightheadedness. You also run the risk of experiencing heat exhaustion and heatstroke, as well as having kidney problems. Fluids are critical for kidney function because they help the kidneys eliminate waste from the bloodstream.
One of the best ways to ensure the proper level of hydration is drinking a variety of different fluids throughout the day – and adding a beverage like Adapt SuperWater Sports Hydration Drinks to your daily routine. With its base of coconut water and good-for-you ingredients like pomegranate and mango, you’ll be sure to get the electrolytes, antioxidants and hydration needed for your body to stay healthy. Check out Adapt’s Store Locator to find a retailer near you!
If you suffer from a case of dehydration, the most important thing you can do is replace the fluids you’ve lost with plenty of water, clear juices, sports drinks, or electrolyte drinks. If your dehydration isn’t caused by a stomach bug or food poisoning, eating foods like fruits and vegetables that have a high water content can help rehydrate the body. For severe cases of dehydration or when taking in fluids orally isn’t possible, intravenous fluids might be the best way to rehydrate.
Depending on the cause of dehydration, additional treatment may be necessary. For example, in the case of a virus or bacterial infection, a doctor may need to prescribe antibiotics. If it’s caused by an underlying medical condition, medications specific to that condition will need to be taken as prescribed. In situations like these, it’s also critical for individuals to pay close attention to warning signs for further dehydration and seek medical attention if needed.
What to Drink For Rehydration
Maintaining the appropriate level of hydration is critical for everyone, especially those who live in especially warm climates, for people who work strenuous jobs, and for athletes who work hard and sweat harder. When you make beverages like Adapt SuperWater part of your daily hydration routine, you’re not only ensuring that you’re gaining a healthy amount of liquid per bottle, but you’re doing so with a drink that is good for you, a drink that is filled with superfoods, herbs and vitamins that help the brain and body function properly.
If you’re committed to improving your hydration, it’s time to Adapt! Try our Superwater Sports Hydration Drinks today by ordering online or through a retailer near you with our Store Locator.