Water is a necessary element for our survival, as it is involved in practically every bodily function. Sadly, many of us drink less than we should. Dehydration can lead to a variety of negative health effects, from headaches and fatigue to digestive issues and joint discomfort. In this article, we'll explore 14 signs that you may not be getting enough water, and we'll discuss the important role that water plays in supporting your body's functions. So, if you're curious about whether you're drinking enough water, read on to learn more.
Water is a vital component of the human body as it supports several essential functions. Among its many roles, water helps regulate body temperature, keeping it within a normal range. In addition to these important functions, water also aids in the elimination of waste products through urine, perspiration, and bowel movements. Without sufficient water intake, the body may experience a host of health problems, making it essential to drink enough water on a daily basis.
A general rule of thumb is to drink at least half your body weight in ounces of water per day. For instance, if you weigh 150 pounds, you should aim to drink at least 75 ounces of water daily. Unfortunately, it is estimated that up to 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated, which can have an array of negative effects.
The amount of water your body needs can vary depending on several factors. For instance, when you are in hot climates, your body loses more water through sweating, and thus, requires more water to replace the lost fluids. Similarly, when you engage in physical activity, you sweat more, and your body needs more water to replace those losses and ensure adequate hydration. In addition, when you are running a fever or experiencing diarrhea or vomiting, your body loses fluids and electrolytes, making it necessary to drink more water to stay hydrated. It's essential to be mindful of these factors to ensure you are drinking enough water to keep your body functioning at its best.
If you don't drink enough water, your body may send you some signs. But, don’t worry – we’ll break down some of the most common ones to look out for.
Dehydration can cause a variety of symptoms, including headaches. When you are dehydrated, your brain and other tissues in the body contract. Then, as the brain tissue shrinks, it pulls away from the skull and adds pressure to the nerves, which could result in headaches. Even mild dehydration can trigger a headache, as your body needs sufficient fluids to function properly.
Therefore, if you are someone who frequently experiences headaches, it's important to evaluate your water intake and make sure you are drinking enough water throughout the day.
If you find yourself constantly thirsty, it may be a sign that you’re not drinking enough water. Thirst is the brain’s way of signaling that your body needs water, so if you’re experiencing this symptom, it’s likely that you’re already dehydrated. It’s important to listen to your body and drink water when you feel thirsty in order to prevent dehydration and its associated symptoms.
One of the less obvious signs of not drinking enough water is bad breath. Drinking water is crucial because it helps to keep you hydrated and flush out particles from the surface of your teeth. Saliva also has antibacterial properties, but when your body is dehydrated, it can't produce enough saliva to clean your mouth. When your mouth dries out, it provides an ideal environment for bacteria to grow rapidly, leading to bad breath. This is a common issue in the morning, as you don’t drink water or produce much saliva during the night.
Chapped lips can be an indicator that you’re not drinking enough water. When you’re dehydrated, your lips become dry and prone to cracking. This is because your lips lack oil glands, which can help keep them moisturized. In fact, dry and chapped lips are often one of the first signs of dehydration.
Muscle cramps are a common sign of dehydration, especially after exercise or exertion. During exercise, your body loses fluids and electrolytes. This can cause your muscles to cramp, which can be uncomfortable and even painful. Muscular cramps can be prevented by staying hydrated and replenishing electrolytes, especially if you're physically active.
Not drinking enough water may lead to weight gain. A study in the Annals of Family Medicine found that adults who were inadequately hydrated had higher BMIs compared to those who were well hydrated. In addition, observational evidence suggests that people who drink more water appear to have more success with weight management. Therefore, it’s important to stay hydrated to help maintain a healthy weight.
Low energy levels are a common sign of dehydration. This is because water is essential for carrying nutrients to your body's cells and removing waste products. Without adequate water, it’s difficult for your cells to get the fuel that they need. About 50% to 60% of your body weight is water, but you constantly lose water through urine, sweat, and breathing. When you are low on fluids, therefore, your body may feel tired and weaker than usual.
Dry eyes can also be a sign of not drinking enough water. Your eyes need moisture to function properly, and water helps to produce healthy tears. Lack of tear production could be a sign of dry eye symptoms, which can cause discomfort, irritation, and even vision problems. Drinking enough water is the easiest way to resolve dry eye symptoms.
Dehydration can contribute to dry skin, as water is necessary for maintaining skin hydration and preventing moisture loss. As experts suggest, however, the best approaches to treating dry skin are twofold, involving the application of topical moisturizer first, and then addressing dehydration by drinking more water. When the skin is hydrated from the inside out, it becomes more resilient, supple, and less prone to dryness and cracking.
When you're not drinking enough water, your body will start to conserve water by reducing the amount of urine produced. This can result in decreased urination or dark yellow urine, which is a sign that your body needs more fluids. When your body doesn't get enough water, your kidneys try to retain as much water as possible, resulting in a darker urine color. So, if your urine is darker than usual or you are not urinating as often as you normally do, this is usually a tell tale sign that you need to drink more water.
When you don’t drink enough water, you may experience digestive issues, particularly constipation. This is because dehydration is a major cause of occasional constipation. As stool moves through the large intestine, the large intestine absorbs water naturally. However, if you do not have enough fluids in your body, your intestine will remove extra water from the stool so it doesn't go to waste, which makes the stool harder and more difficult to pass. Increasing water intake can help alleviate occasional constipation and improve bowel movements.
Feeling dizzy or lightheaded is an extremely uncomfortable condition that can have a number of causes. However, one of the most common culprits is usually dehydration. In healthy people with normal blood pressure, dehydration can cause blood pressure levels (already in normal range) to drop, which can result in dizziness. When there isn’t enough water in the body, blood volume decreases, which causes the heart to work harder to pump blood to the organs. Then, the blood vessels constrict, leading to a decrease in blood flow and oxygen supply. This cascade of events results in dizziness, lightheadedness, and, in extreme circumstances, fainting may occur.
One of the most unknown facts about dehydration is that it can lead to unpleasant body odor. This is because water helps release toxins through sweat, and when your body is not properly hydrated, it is unable to release these toxins and bacteria. This buildup of toxins and bacteria can lead to an unpleasant odor, especially in areas like the armpits, feet, and groin.
There are many signs and symptoms that can indicate you are not drinking enough water. The most common ones that we discussed include headaches, increased thirst, bad breath, chapped lips, muscle cramps, weight gain, fatigue, dry skin and eyes, constipation, dark urine, dizziness, and foul body odor.
If you experience any of these symptoms, it is a good idea to boost your water intake to ensure that you are staying well hydrated. Remember, a general rule of thumb is to drink half of your body weight in ounces. Water and fluids are necessary for our bodies to be able to function at their best, so it's crucial to drink enough of it throughout the day.