15 Ways Dehydration Is Making You Sick
Written By Hristina Byrnes – The Active Times
The body is dehydrated when it has lost more fluid than it’s taken in, resulting in not having enough water to allow it to perform at optimal level. People won’t feel it right away as most of them drink water only when they feel thirsty. However, you’re already dehydrated at that point. Moderately active people won’t see a difference immediately, but studies have shown that athletes’ performance worsens even at 2 percent loss in water volume, according to Dr. William Roberts, founder of the International Institute of Race Medicine. Your skin, muscles and mood are not the only victims. The kidneys, heart and cholesterol levels also suffer.
1. Kidney Problems
When a body doesn’t have enough water it doesn’t get rid of the all the toxins and waste in the system. This can result in kidney problems. “When dehydration occurs there is a shunt of blood away from the gut and kidneys so that the blood will preferentially go to the heart and the brain,” Dr. Joseph N. Chorley from Texas Children’s Hospital says. “With decreased blood to the kidneys, there is less nutrition and oxygen to the kidneys that results in damage.”
2. Muscles Cramps
"Dehydration leads to less efficient aerobic fitness," Dr. Chorley says. "There will be an increased heart rate for the same amount of aerobic exercise which means you will fatigue and get into anaerobic metabolism that will produce lactic acid, which results in more muscle soreness," he adds.
3. Skin Damage
When your body is dehydrated it will slow the blood flow and your skin doesn’t get enough oxygen or nutrients. “The single most important factor in protecting your skin is hydration,” Dr. Elizabeth Hale, spokesperson for the Skin Cancer Foundation and board-certified dermatologist, says. “So drink your eight glasses of water or have soup for lunch, or any fluid-based food.”
4. Pulse Increases
Blood pressure fallsand the pulse increases as you dehydrate, according to Dr. Chorley. “The heart has to work hard to maintain the amount of blood being pumped out to the body, so if there is less fluid in the system, the heart does not completely fill, so it has to beat faster to accommodate.”
5. You Are Probably Eating More
Thirst usually occurs when people are 1-2 percent dehydrated, Dr. Chorley says. It can masquerade as hunger and the body doesn’t know the difference. Avoid the confusion by drinking water before it's mealtime. You’ll also feel fuller so you won’t end up eating a lot of food. Doctors recommend that people check their sweat rate during different parts of the year. “This way you can replace fluid at a rate consistent with your sweat rate, because there is so much difference in sweat rate by weight, gender, acclimatization, and fitness,” Dr. Chorley adds.
6. Bad Mood
“Dehydration will manifest as fatigue, and when people are tired, they are usually in a worse mood,” Dr. Chorley says. There are scientific reasons as well. Even mild dehydration – about 1.5 percent loss in normal water volume in the body – can alter a person’s mood, energy level, and ability to think clearly,” according to two studies conducted at the University of Connecticut. “Neurons in the brain detect dehydration and may signal other parts of the brain regulating mood when dehydration occurs.” Women tend to be more susceptible.
Headaches, which can sometimes be life-threatening, caused by dehydration are more common in athletes, Roberts says. Not having enough water in the body means that the brain tissue is losing water, causing it to shrink and pull away from the skull, eventually leading to a headache. Also, the flow of oxygen to the brain is lowered due to low blood volume caused by dehydration. If you’re walking or running and you feel pain in your head, drink water.
8. Feet and Arms Are Swelling
Swollen feet and arms is another way lack of enough water in your body is making you sick, Dr. Roberts says. The reason is salt retention caused by mild to severe kidney dysfunction, which is often caused by dehydration. The kidneys are the body’s filtration system that clears it of toxins. If the organs are not working well, excess fluid is not removed from the body efficiently and it gets trapped in the tissues, causing swelling.
Lack of water slows everything in the body down, leaving you feeling sleepy and tired. Adequate hydration is dependent on many different factors, such as your size, activity levels and sweat rate. “By the time you’re thirsty you’re already dehydrated,” Dr. Roberts says, “but, in general, drinking enough water when you feel you should is safe enough.” The best indicator of your hydration is your urine. Someone who is well-hydrated will produce clear or light-colored urine. Dark-colored urine is a sign of dehydration.
10. High Cholesterol
Dehydration during fasting increases lipid concentrations, according to a study. Lack of enough water in your blood will make it too thick, making it harder for the heart to squeeze and push it through the vessels. They get damaged as a result causing cholesterol to accumulate in your arteries. Also, the body increases its production of cholesterol to keep cell membranes moist, so the flow of nutrients is not disturbed.
11. Poor Digestion
A major cause of poor digestion is dehydration. Lack of water, calcium and magnesium can cause ulcers, gastritis and acid reflux because the stomach doesn’t have enough H2O to produce digestive acid. Studies have shown that drinking water can help subdue serious symptoms of acid reflux by temporarily raising stomach pH.
The logic is simple: Water is what keeps the food moving down through your intestines. If the body is dehydrated, the large intestine (colon) will soak up whatever water it can from the food you consumed, making it too hard to pass, causing pain and constipation.
13. Premature Aging
When chronically dehydrated, all of the body’s organs begin to weaken prematurely. The skin, the largest organ, gets dry, rough and itchy, when dehydrated, making it very prone to wrinkles. Healthy skin usually has about 20 percent water. Dehydrated skin can drop to under 10. The skin then doesn’t retain moisture and the flow of nutrients is affected. If you don’t fix this problem and your body cells don’t get what they need to function properly, they will get damaged.
14. Bad Breath
Saliva has many anti-bacterial properties and studies have shown that licking wounds make scientific sense because it is a natural antiseptic. However, if you don’t have enough liquids in your body that are necessary for it to function properly, then you won’t be producing enough saliva. That can result in a lot of bacteria growing in your mouth, causing bad breath (which is also an unexpected way to know that you may have health problems).
15. The Body Restricts Airways
When lacking water, the body will restrict airways as a self-defense mechanism to preserve whatever water it has left, Dr. Chorley says. “But the amount of water lost through the lungs is relatively small. Sweat can be 3,000-4,000 ml/hour in exercise and respiratory loss from the lungs is 30 ml/hour.”