Lack of water can affect your health in unexpected ways. Here’s how to tell if your body is dehydrated.

7 Surprising Signs You’re Not Getting Enough Water

In All Health Watch, Diet and Nutrition, Featured Article by INH Research3 Comments

There is one substance more important for good health than any other. It’s water.

Consider this: Your brain and heart are 73% water. Your lungs about 83%; your skin, 64%; muscles and kidneys, 79%. Even bones are 31% water.1

Of course, thirst is the first sign you need more water. But there are other common symptoms you may be suffering from. Ones you’d never associate with dehydration.

Dehydration upsets the entire body’s ability to function. Running low on water is like letting your car run out of gas. It eventually shuts down.2

It can lead to blood clots, seizures, and chronic health conditions. Even mild dehydration can have adverse effects. So it’s important to identify dehydration early.

Here are seven surprising signs you need more water:3,4,5

  1. Sleepiness. Water allows your brain to focus. When there isn’t enough, it shuts down by inducing sleep.
  2. Hunger. Many people confuse hunger with thirst. If you’ve just eaten but still feel hungry, reach for a glass of water instead of a snack.Dehydration can also cause cravings for sweets. The liver uses water to release glycogen. This gives you energy. If you are short on water and your liver can’t release glycogen, your body looks to sweets for energy.
  3. Blood pressure spikes. Episodes of high blood pressure can be caused by dehydration. Your blood may be thickening. This causes your pressure to go up. If you get a surprisingly high blood pressure reading, drink a glass or two of water. Wait an hour. Then check your blood pressure again.
  4. Headaches. Your brain sits in a protective fluid sack. If this sack becomes dehydrated, the brain bumps against the skull. This causes a headache. People who habitually don’t drink enough water can experience chronic headaches.
  5. Constipation. If you are dehydrated, the large intestine extracts water from your food. This causes stools to become compacted.
  6. Bad breath. Saliva has antibacterial properties. But dehydration prevents your body from making enough of it. This leads to flourishing mouth bacteria and bad breath.
  7. Dry Skin. This could mean your body is robbing your skin of water to keep other body functions operating.

It’s a widespread myth you need eight glasses of water a day. You actually need more. But there’s a catch.

A man needs about twelve 8-ounce cups of water per day. A woman needs about nine cups. If they sweat or exercise a lot, they need more.

But a lot of our hydration needs are met by the water in foods we eat… Especially fruits and vegetables. Many are 90% water.6 This makes it tricky to gauge fluid intake.

One great way to track your hydration is with a free iPhone app called Ozmo. Download it here.

Doctors often advise that you know you’re dehydrated if your urine is dark or bright yellow. But this can be problematic for people taking supplements. Vitamins B and C can cause darker urine even when you drink plenty of water.

The best advice: Be conscious of drinking plenty of water throughout the day. Keep a glass or bottle handy. And eat plenty of water-rich fruits and vegetables.

That way you’ll never run short of the world’s most important nutrient.

In Good Health,

Angela Salerno
Publisher, INH Health Watch

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  1. Very informative, but I would add one symptom – rapid heart beat. Have been susceptible to this for many years – a quick fix is a large glass of ice-cubes and water – and make sure to drink more for the rest of the day and tomorrow and . . .! Enough is usually 8 or 9 8oz glasses. No good waiting until you are thirsty!
    Thanks for interesting newsletters.

  2. When you are recognize you are thirsty you are already dehydrated. We confuse the initial thirst for being hungry. Sad to think that maybe a key reason for the obesity epidemic is lack of water.

    At my father’s funeral, my step sister’s daughter got sick and threw up in the car on the way back. At my father’s house I talked to her as she laid on the couch, feeling poor/y, nauseated with a migraine headache. I asked her how much water she had drank that day. None. How about yesterday? None. She told me she didn’t like the taste of water. OK how much water have you drank in the last week. None. She said she drinks sugar free soda. I hear this is common especially among the young.

  3. I get a horrible feeling of foreboding when I am dehydrated. I used to describe it as my ‘counting feeling’ – it was as if I was faced with an impossible task of counting a high number of pennies, which if I didn’t manage to do it and do it accurately, something terrible would happen. Hard to explain and an odd thing to think when dehydrated

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