“Dry mouth, headache, and dizziness may occur.” Sounds like the fine print warnings on a medication bottle, right? But these symptoms can also indicate dehydration. Yikes! Dehydration occurs when the body loses too much fluid and can't adequately replace it. This can happen for a number of reasons, but it's most commonly due to fever (more water evaporates when body temperature goes up), diarrhea, vomiting, or long periods of exercise with excessive sweating (especially in hot or humid climates). When fluid levels get low (no, not like Lil’ John), the body goes on high alert. Read on to find out what signs to look out for, and how to avoid the dry-time blues in the first place.
Body of Water — The Need to Know
The body is approximately two thirds water, and losing some of it throughout the day in sweat, tears, and urine is totally normal. That lost water can be easily replaced by sipping on some good ol’ H2O or other drinks (sorry — not the alcoholic kind!) and many foods.
But when the amount of water drops too low for normal body functions (like maintaining temperature, protecting organs, and getting rid of all the bad stuff in the body through urination, perspiration, and… other things), it can lead to dehydration.
Especially as summer approaches, it’s essential to be on the lookout for the common signs of dehydration (or what’s medically referred to as “volume depletion”):
- Dry mouth. The mouth may be first on the scene by becoming dry or sticky. Saliva is 99 percent water, after all. - Lowered blood pressure, headaches, and dizziness. Blood may be thicker than water, but it’s actually about 83 percent water, and less water circulating around the body means less blood, too. This can lead to lowered blood pressure, headaches, dizziness, and even a rapid heartbeat as the heart needs to pump faster to make up for having less blood. - Muscle fatigue. Lean muscle tissue contains about 75 percent water, so when the body’s short on water, muscles are more easily fatigued. - Dry, cool skin. When the body’s dehydrated, it does what it can to hold onto to whatever fluid is left — even stealing water from Peter to pay Paul. The skin is the first place to be robbed of water, resulting in dry, cool skin. - Thirst. Duhh… - Feeling lethargic and irritable. - Lack of urine. When the body’s short on fluid, no wonder it doesn’t want to expel even more! If the yellow tide (too much?) stops for more than 12 hours (or there’s only a very small amount of dark yellow urine), something’s definitely wrong.
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