We hear it all day, every day: most of us are not drinking enough water. We know that we need it, but for one reason or another, we often fail to make it a priority. As a result, we may begin to notice changes in our sense of well-being.
The average adult body is made up of between 55-60 percent water, which is an indication as to why it’s so important to replenish and refresh these vital stores. It makes sense that when we get dehydrated our bodies, much like our vehicles, send out clear warning signs that we need to check our fluid levels. If that happens, it’s important to do everything to get your hydration level back on track.
Here are some of the symptoms associated with not drinking enough water.
Dry skin that doesn’t improve with lotion
It’s normal for our skin to change with the seasons. In winter months, we may find that our skin seems dull and lifeless. You see, dry skin lacks sebum (oil) and should respond to the application of oil-rich products. In these situations, applying copious amounts of moisturizer is often enough to improve the situation.
If, at any point in the year, your skin stays dry and chapped despite being slathered in healing lotions, you may want to grab a drink (or several). When skin loses its luster due to dehydration, all it desperately needs is to be watered!
Dry, sticky mouth and excessive thirst
It feels a bit obvious to point out the fact that if you haven’t been drinking enough water, your mouth and tongue may be extra dry and sticky, but some people may genuinely miss this sign. Along the same lines, being excessively thirsty is actually a symptom that you’ve been dehydrated for a while. In both cases, grab a glass and start replenishing any lost fluids (especially since desert-like conditions in your mouth can cause a serious case of bad breath!).
It’s worth mentioning, however, that a dry mouth and increased thirst can be a sign of something more serious. If your symptoms haven’t improved after a few days of focused rehydration, you should probably make an appointment with your healthcare provider.
You’re dealing with a headache
It’s one of the worst feelings. Your head is throbbing and, with each passing minute, you can feel it getting worse. It makes it hard to concentrate on anything, and your patience begins to run thin. Fortunately, drinking more water could be enough to not only prevent these painful episodes, but also cure them.
According to the National Headache Foundation, headaches are actually a common sign that someone is experiencing mild to moderate dehydration. In fact, an inadequate intake of water can trigger a migraine! The NHF suggests drinking only water when experiencing headaches and avoiding sugary or overly salty sports beverages, which can worsen dehydration.
You’re tired all the time
Pay attention to your routines to make sure that you are getting enough sleep every night. If you are resting well but still feel sluggish and tired all of the time, you might be dehydrated.
Fatigue can seriously affect your sense of well-being and ability to concentrate, and it can leave you feeling clumsy and prone to accidents. Clearly, no one wants to feel this way, but fortunately, things could be improved simply by sipping on the right amount of H20 throughout the day.
You’re gaining weight
Believe it or not, an expanding waistline can be a sign that you aren’t drinking enough water. Studies have shown that drinking as little has 500ml (about 17 ounces) of water can boost your metabolism by up to 30%. It’s not surprising, therefore, that many health and wellness experts include an increase in water consumption among their tips for losing and maintaining weight.
Along those same lines, experts believe that even mild dehydration can send mixed signals to the brain and make you think you are hungry when what you really need is some water. Drinking one to two glasses before mealtime can fill you up and prevent you from eating when your body just needs more hydration.
You’re coping with constipation
This might be TMI, but if you’re having a hard time going to the bathroom, you just might need to increase your water intake. Biologically speaking, your body needs fluids in order to pass waste through your digestive tract, so if you haven’t had enough to drink, things are going to get a little backed up. In fact, dehydration is a leading cause of chronic constipation.
The best thing you can do is get into the habit of drinking plenty of water throughout the day to prevent digestive woes. After you’ve increased your intake, you should notice an improvement in your bathroom activities. If not, check with your medical professional just in case something else is going on.
You’ve had a urinary tract infection
Anyone who has ever had a urinary tract infection will probably say that it was one of the most uncomfortable, unpleasant experiences in their life. UTIs are caused by a variety factors but often arise after bacteria has entered into our bodies through sexual intercourse or failing to wipe from front to back after using the bathroom.
One other major cause of urinary tract infections is dehydration. Drinking water helps to flush bacteria from our bladders, thus preventing infection from setting in. Some warning signs that our water intake is too low include dark colored urine or a decreased need to urinate at all. Of course, if it feels like you’ve got an infection, see a medical professional and drink plenty of water.
You feel irritable and moody
In a bad mood? This may shock you, but a simple glass of water might be all you need to turn things around. Some research has shown that just mild dehydration can lead to neurological changes that affect our ability to focus and can cause irritability.
Even more shocking is that you only need to be 1 percent below your optimal level of hydration to feel these negative effects. So, next time you’re feeling cranky and can’t understand why, pour yourself a nice tall glass of water (or two!) and let your mood improve.
You’re having muscle cramps
Having muscle cramps can be annoying, frustrating, and painful. Typically, people will try stretching or using massage techniques to relieve their symptoms, but what you really need might be much simpler.
While there is some disagreement on this, some studies have shown a relationship between dehydration and muscle cramping. Apparently, our blood circulation slows down when we drink too little water. As our bodies compensate for the lack of hydration, fluid is moved away from our muscles in an effort to protect our vital organs.
Things can be exacerbated further if our sodium and potassium levels begin to change due to sweat loss. This is why it’s crucial that we consume enough water every day, but especially in hot weather and when we are exercising.
How to know you’re getting enough water
There are so many different opinions when it comes to knowing how much water we need to consume each day. While most of us are familiar with the standard recommendation to drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water each day, modern studies are focusing on gender and size-based requirements for optimal health. For example, a 6’5″ man might feel that eight glasses a day isn’t enough, while a 4’10” woman might feel it’s too much.
The Mayo Clinic suggests following the Institute of Medicine’s adequate intake guidelines, which indicate that 13 cups for men and nine cups for women is sufficient. Obviously, if you are sweating, increase your intake accordingly and use common sense. If it feels like you’ve had enough water, respect your body.
Remember, if you feel thirsty, you’re probably already mildly dehydrated. If your mouth feels parched, guzzle a cup or two to get back on track!