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Seven Side Effects of Dehydration That May Surprise You

August 09, 2023
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3 minutes
Seven Side Effects of Dehydration That May Surprise You

Water makes up 60 percent of our total body weight and is involved in most chemical reactions in the body. When our body does not have the water it needs to function properly, dehydration is the result. Hot weather causes us to sweat to cool off, which can lead to loss of total body water. Common side effects of dehydration are fatigue, headache, thirst, dizziness, decreased urine output, dark urine, and dry mouth. However, you may be surprised to know dehydration can cause additional side effects:

1. Bad breath

Saliva contains antibacterial compounds. If you are dehydrated, you make less saliva that usually fights off odor-containing bacteria in your mouth. In addition to having malodor, you may also notice that your mouth has an off taste.

2. Skin tenting

Dehydrated skin loses elasticity, and won't bounce back if pulled away. When you pull some skin from your forearm or hand as if you were forming a tent, you should see it fall right back into place if you are properly hydrated. If you are dehydrated, it may stay in the tented position and fall back into place more slowly.

3. Muscle cramps

Muscle cramps occur when electrolyte(sodium/potassium) balances are unstable. This can be caused by sweating in the heat or vomiting during an illness. Although water Is usually enough to rehydrate, when having muscle cramps, it may benefit you to also drink an electrolyte beverage.

4. Food cravings

Sometimes with dehydration, the body has difficulty supplying glucose to the cells. The liver uses water to supply glycogen which is broken down into glucose. This may cause cravings for sweet foods or carbohydrate-rich foods to fulfill that supply of glucose.

5. Brain fog

Dehydration causes the blood pressure to fall, which in turn causes less blood supply to the brain. We usually turn to caffeine when we feel the brain fog, but this may make it worse as caffeine is a natural diuretic and can lead to worsening dehydration. Depression and anxiety can also get worse due to the fact dehydration reduces blood flow to the brain which slows brain function.

6. Constipation

Bowel movements require an adequate amount of water. When you are dehydrated, the body takes water from the gastrointestinal tract. Dehydration in the gastrointestinal tract can also lead to acid reflux and bloating.

7. Worsening of allergies and asthma

When your body becomes dehydrated, your histamine levels can rise. That increase in histamine levels causes the symptoms we get from allergies. In some cases, allergy symptoms trigger asthma.

How Much Water Does a Person Need to Stay Properly Hydrated?

The amount of water a body needs varies from person to person. A good baseline on a hot day is a half ounce to one ounce of water per pound of body weight, each day. So a 150-pound person would need 75 to 150 ounces of water daily. If playing a sport or exercising in hot weather, aim for one ounce per pound per day.

Hydration can also come from low-sugar electrolyte beverages and fruits and vegetables. Remember to avoid drinks with caffeine and high amounts of sugar when trying to hydrate.

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If you’re not feeling well or have questions about your health, reach out to us at 855-481-8375 or make an appointment here.

James McMullen

James McMullen

Physician Assistant

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