Dehydration is when your body loses more water than you are taking in. Fluid loss can happen because of sweating, vomiting, diarrhoea, or taking medications that have a diuretic effect. When you’re dehydrated, your body loses electrolytes, essential minerals in your blood.
Electrolytes regulate body fluid, balance the water in the body, balance the body’s pH levels, and move nutrients into your cells. Dehydration prevents your body from functioning normally. Drinking water is the best thing you can do to avoid it. However, there are things you should avoid doing when you’re dehydrated.
How can you tell you’re dehydrated?
Studies show that adult dehydration can lead to poor sleep. You also perform poorly during exercise when you’re dehydrated. Not having enough water reduces productivity and makes it harder to do normal tasks.
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2. Darker coloured urine
Not only will you pee less, but you will also notice your urine is a darker-coloured urine. This is because the body is trying to conserve water. The urine becomes darker because it contains more waste products than water. Your urine should be a light yellow colour.
3. Cracked lips
Dehydration leads to less moisture in your skin. This can lead to more wrinkles. You will also notice your lips are cracked, and you have a dry mouth.
Doctors also use the skin turgor test to check if you’re severely dehydrated. It involves pinching the skin on the lower arm or abdomen. If the skin remains up, you’re dehydrated.
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Doctors aren’t sure why dehydration leads to headaches, but some research suggests that blood vessels thin out and the brain isn’t getting enough fluid. Taking water also reduces migraine symptoms.
5. Heart palpitations
Dehydration can lead to heart palpitations. You will feel like your heart is pounding or fluttering. It leads to improper heart function because it affects blood flow and pressure. Not taking enough water leads to low blood pressure as well. But this and dizziness or fainting only happen in cases of severe dehydration.
However, some of these can be symptoms of other underlying conditions. For instance, darker-coloured urine can be from the medication.
The general guideline for hydrating is 3.7l for men and 2.7l for women each day. But these are reliant on different circumstances. When the weather is hot, or you’re under treatment, you may need more water.
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Mistakes to avoid when you’re dehydrated
1. Drinking water on an empty stomach
Studies show that drinking water on an empty stomach doesn’t help you retain the water. If you haven’t eaten, you’re better of drinking milk or fresh orange juice so that your electrolyte balance is enough to retain water.
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2. Taking excessive caffeine
Taking one or two cups of coffee won’t affect your health. You may also take coffee because you’re feeling lethargic. Some people think you shouldn’t take tea or coffee when dehydrated, but it doesn’t affect hydration significantly. However, excessive caffeine leads to fluid loss. Studies show that taking too much coffee, tea, and soda increases the frequency of urination. Drinking too much coffee or tea increases the effects of dehydration.
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3. Skipping carbs
Taking water gets rid of dehydration. However, you need complex minerals and nutrients to help you retain water. Potassium, sodium and chloride, and electrolytes maintain a healthy fluid balance in your cells. Taking food that doesn’t have salt can lead to dehydration. Carbs help hold onto water in your gut, especially if you have an active lifestyle.
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4. Taking alcohol
Alcohol is a diuretic. When you keep drinking, you’ll pee more. You need to pair alcohol with regular soda (not diet) and water in between shots to avoid dehydration and loss of electrolytes. In addition, don’t take a beer because you’re thirsty. It will just lead to more thirst.
5. Eating instead of drinking
The symptoms of hunger can be similar to dehydration symptoms. Fatigue, headaches, and light-headedness can be a sign of hunger. So you can easily choose to eat rather than drink more water. It can be hard to decipher what the problem is. You can resolve this by drinking water before, during, and after your meal. You can also eat water-rich foods such as salads that have lettuce and cucumbers. Fruits like watermelon are also rich in water content.
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