Signs of Dehydration
It has been really cold in Colorado this past week. After a good six inches or so of snow the temperatures have remained below or very close to 0 degrees. Ugh.
I find that when it is really cold out that I have a harder time drinking the water that my body needs and I admit that I’ve fallen short on this important component. (Colorado has a super dry climate so it is even more important to drink enough water.)
I’ve noticed some signs of dehydration in my body including dry, itchy skin and chapped lips. The cold, bitter air only makes it worse.
The biggest signal of dehydration that I’ve noticed is the color of my urine. Darkly colored urine is a big sign of not getting enough water. It should be a light straw color.
In recognition of these signs of dehydration in my body, I decided to look more into effects of chronic dehydration. Dehydration is a big deal considering 60% of our body is made up of water.
Importance of Getting Enough Water
Turns out dehydration can lead to fatigue, joint pain, constipation, weight gain, headaches, kidney disease, high blood pressure and ulcers. Also with dehydration histamine levels can increase, causing an imbalance in the immune system.
The lymph fluids which transport waste and nutrients are made from the water we consume, so when we don’t have enough water, waste remains in the body.
Water makes up roughly 83% of blood volume. Blood is the body’s primarily vehicle to deliver nutrients, oxygen and other vital components to the tissue. It also carries carbon dioxide, by-products and waste products.
The brain needs water to function properly. It receives 15-20% of this blood supply. This means that dehydration can lead to mental and emotional imbalances, causing depressive states.
Too little water can cause the mucus barrier in our intestinal lining to be ineffectual, leading to digestive pain and constipation. Water is necessary for proper digestion so that the body absorbs vitamins and nutrients. (Ideally, water should be consumed about half an hour before a meal).
Mistaking Thirst for Hunger
As the body gets used to a chronically dehydrated state, then it loses sensitivity to water deprivation, meaning it doesn’t get thirsty when needed. When we ignore our thirst, we don’t recognize the signs. Often times thirst is mistaken for hunger.
Signs of a dehydration imbalance include constant snacking and sugar cravings. I’ve heard many times the suggestion that when a food craving hits to drink a glass of water and see how you feel afterwards. Often times this is enough to kill the craving.
I think it important to note that most of the drinks available outside of water — such as soda, coffee, tea, alcohol etc. are diuretic, which means that they are water expelling. Their acidic compositions require the body to give up water and alkalizing minerals to eliminate their harmful residues.
In short, this means that these drinks contribute to dehydration. If you decide to drink one of these choices make sure to counter it with 24 ounces of water, in addition to what you normally need to drink.
On the Positive Side?
After recognizing signs of dehydration in my body, and reviewing all the impacts chronic dehydration has on the body, I decided to focus on my water intake this weekend. I’ve passed on the other drinks (which has been hard since its so cold!)
And I am feeling better today. My lips are moisturized and my skin has improved. And my pee – a nice light, light yellow 🙂
I strive to drink half of my body weight in ounces of water. I’ve heard this recommended on more than one occasion. This may differ depending on your environment. If you live in a more humid climate, then the body holds on to more water than here in desert-like Colorado.
Do you keep track of your water intake? Are you aware of your body’s own signs of dehydration? I’d love to hear from you….