Understanding, Preventing and Treating Dehydration
Water is the foundation of life itself. Yet, it’s astonishing how many people overlook the perils of dehydration.
Our bodies are mostly made up of water, roughly 60% to be precise. This makes water indispensable for keeping our bodily functions running smoothly.
Throughout the day, we lose water through activities like sweating, going to the bathroom and even just breathing. It’s crucial that we consistently replenish our water supply to prevent dehydration.
This need becomes even more pressing in the summertime and when we’re active and sweating more. Dehydration isn’t something to take lightly; it can have serious consequences for our health.
The Importance of Hydration
Hydration is essential for a multitude of bodily processes. Here are some of the roles water plays in the body and its functions:
- Regulating body temperature
- Aiding in digestion
- Carrying nutrients to cells
- Supporting joint health
- Flushing waste and toxins from the body
- Ensuring organs function optimally
- Facilitates energy and focus
What Causes Dehydration?
Dehydration occurs when the body is losing more fluid than it’s taking in. Not drinking enough water is something we are all often guilty of with our busy lifestyles.
Dehydration can be exasperated by:
- Inadequate fluid intake
- Excessive sweating
- Chronic Kidney Disease
- Cystic Fibrosis
- Crohn’s disease
- Addison’s disease
- Alcohol and substance abuse
- Medication with diuretic effects
What Are the Symptoms of Dehydration?
- Excessive thirst – if you’re feeling thirsty, you’re already dehydrated.
- Dry mouth – an early sign of dehydration where the salivary glands don’t produce enough saliva as there are not enough fluids in the body.
- Dry skin
- Dark, strong-smelling urine – when dehydrated, the kidneys try to save as much water, so urine is more concentrated.
- Fatigue – this is caused by poor blood flow to the brain which is inhibited by the lack of water.
- Sunken eyes – In severe cases, dehydration can cause the eyes to appear sunken or hollow.
- Muscle tiredness – blood flow is reduced to the exercising muscles is reduced.
- Dizziness and light-headedness – because the blood is not reaching the brain in an optimal way, feelings of dizziness or vertigo can be experienced.
- Passing urine less than four times a day – the kidneys are retaining the fluid.
What Are the Signs of Chronic Dehydration?
Chronic dehydration is more serious and can include a combination of mild signs with additional symptoms including:
- Impaired Cognitive Function – affecting cognitive abilities such as memory, attention and problem-solving. This is particularly concerning for students, professionals and anyone who relies on mental agility.
- Dry Mouth and Dry Eyes: A chronically dry mouth and dry, irritated eyes can be common symptoms. You may also experience a reduced production of saliva and tears.
- Physical Performance Decline – a decrease in endurance, coordination and strength is apparent when dehydrated, even a slight fluid loss can hinder physical performance so it’s imperative that athletes, fitness enthusiasts and active people remain adequately hydrated.
- Increased Risk of Kidney Stones – insufficient water intake can lead to the formation of kidney stones which are painful mineral deposits that can obstruct the urinary tract.
- Joint Pain – Inadequate hydration can contribute to joint discomfort, particularly in individuals with conditions like arthritis.
- Increased Heart Rate – Chronic dehydration may cause an increased heart rate, as the heart works harder to compensate for reduced blood volume.
- Bad Breath – Dehydration can contribute to bad breath, as reduced saliva can allow bacteria to proliferate in the mouth.
- Reduced Sweat Production – In some cases, chronic dehydration can lead to reduced sweating during physical activity, which impairs the body’s ability to cool down.
- Skin Health – dehydration can make the skin dry, flaky, dull and more prone to issues like acne and premature ageing.
- Digestive Issues – proper hydration is essential for smooth digestion. Dehydration can lead to constipation and other gastrointestinal problems.
If left untreated, dehydration can progress to more severe symptoms like rapid heartbeat, confusion and even organ failure.
Can diarrhoea cause dehydration?
Dehydration itself is not a direct result of diarrhoea, but there is a relationship between the two. Diarrhoea is often associated with an increase in fluid loss due to frequent and watery bowel movements which can lead to dehydration if not managed properly. The body loses water and electrolytes more rapidly than usual when suffering from diarrhoea. If the lost fluids are not adequately replaced, dehydration is likely to occur.
Can dehydration cause nausea?
Because dehydration leads to a decrease in electrolytes such as sodium and potassium, which are crucial for performing various nerve and muscle functions as well as maintaining the balance of fluids in and around the cells, this can lead to nausea.
Dehydration can also cause digestive distress, reduce the blood flow around the body and cause acid reflux and waste buildup in the body – all of which contribute to feelings of nausea.
Can dehydration cause headaches?
When we are dehydrated, various bodily functions are disrupted including blood flow and electrolyte balance which can cause headaches due to:
- Blood volume and flow: a decrease in blood volume, which can lead to reduced blood flow to the brain, can result in constriction of blood vessels, leading to headaches.
- Electrolyte imbalance: when you’re dehydrated, there can be an imbalance in electrolyte levels that can affect nerve function and contribute to headaches.
- Dilation of blood vessels: dehydration can trigger the release of certain chemicals in the body that cause blood vessels to dilate, leading to increased blood flow to the brain, resulting in throbbing headaches.
- Brain tissue shrinkage: dehydration can cause brain tissue to temporarily shrink due to the loss of fluids. This shrinking can pull on the sensitive membranes that cover the brain, resulting in head pain.
- Increased sensitivity to pain: dehydration can increase sensitivity to pain, making you more susceptible to experiencing headaches and migraines.
Dehydration is a preventable health risk that can have serious complications if left unchecked. By understanding its importance and implementing simple hydration strategies, we can safeguard our body’s functions, cognitive abilities and overall vitality.
- Drink Plenty of Water: The simplest way to prevent dehydration is to drink enough water throughout the day. Adults should be drinking at least 2 litres (8 glasses) of water a day to achieve good hydration but various factors such as diet, climate, exercise/exertion levels and the state of health can all affect the amount of water and fluids we need each day. We should aim to drink more through the summer.
- Monitor your urine: The colour of your urine is a reliable indicator of your hydration level. Pale yellow urine generally indicates proper hydration, while dark yellow or amber-coloured urine suggests dehydration.
- Stay hydrated during physical activity: If you’re physically active you should be drinking water before, during and after exercise to replenish lost fluids.
- Consume water-rich foods: Fruits and vegetables with a high water content, such as watermelon, cucumber, and oranges, can contribute to your overall hydration.
- Set reminders: In our busy lives, it’s easy to forget to drink water. Set reminders on your phone or use apps to prompt you to hydrate regularly.
- Limit dehydrating drinks: Drinks like coffee, tea and alcohol can have a diuretic effect, increasing fluid loss. Consume them in moderation and balance them with water intake.
Recovering from Dehydration:
There are many strategies we can implement to help recover from dehydration, but the earlier we begin, the faster the recovery.
- Hydrate gradually: Start by sipping water in small amounts, slowly and consistently over time.
- Electrolyte replenishment: Along with water, consume drinks that contain electrolytes such as oral rehydration solutions, sports drinks or coconut water. These help to restore the balance of important minerals like sodium, potassium and chloride that are lost during dehydration.
- Consume clear fluids: Choose clear fluids like water, herbal teas and clear broths. Avoid caffeine and alcohol as they can contribute to further dehydration.
- Eat hydrating foods: High water content fruit and vegetables are a good way to top up your hydration levels: try watermelon, oranges, cucumbers, lettuce and celery.
- Avoid sugary and carbonated drinks: these can exacerbate dehydration by drawing water away from the body so it’s best to stick to water and electrolyte-rich options.
- Rest and take it easy: Give your body time to recover, refraining from strenuous activities until you feel better.
- Avoid greasy or spicy foods: stick to bland and easily digestible foods to avoid further upsetting your stomach.
- Monitor symptoms: Keep an eye on your symptoms. If they worsen or persist despite rehydration efforts, seek medical attention.
- Seek medical help: If you’re severely dehydrated, experiencing severe symptoms, or unable to keep fluids down, it’s essential to seek medical attention.
Remember, the severity of dehydration can vary and recovery strategies should be adjusted accordingly. Whilst mild dehydration can often be managed at home, severe dehydration requires medical intervention. If you’re unsure about the extent of your dehydration or if your symptoms are concerning, consult a healthcare professional for guidance.
For those who are dehydrated and want a quick replenishment The Hydration Drip at IVBOOST delivers a bespoke, vitamin-infused medical treatment to help rehydrate the body on a cellular level and replenish essential minerals and electrolytes. It also improves blood supply to vital organs while purifying your body from the daily chemicals you are exposed to.
The Hydration Drip delivers a combination of electrolytes, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals directly to your cells which are absorbed by the body much faster and more efficiently than drinking water: one litre of vitamin therapy is equivalent to drinking approximately 3.8 litres of water. As the vitamins bypass the intestine, you can be provided with high-dose supplementation.
Our experts at IVBOOST tailor each treatment to your individual needs and symptoms to deliver the ultimate hydration to optimise health and wellness.