Dangers of Dehydration and its Effects on the Body
Dehydration goes much deeper than being a little thirsty. Thirst is your body’s way of telling you it needs water. Your body needs water to function properly. Without it, you can actually have some very diverse effects.
If left too long, you can suffer anywhere from mild to severe cases and effects of dehydration. It is recommended that you drink enough water, even if you are not feeling thirsty.
Technically, dehydration happens when someone loses more than two percent of their body’s fluid. We pass water all day, via sweat, urination, crying, and more.
But we can also become dehydrated due to certain medications, severe diarrhea, excessive sweating, vomiting, and not replenishing these fluids. It actually doesn’t take long for a body to become dehydrated.
It can happen to anyone, but those at higher risk are seniors, children, athletes, people with disabilities, either physical or mentally, and people with chronic illnesses.
We can become dehydrated from foods we consume, as well. Too much alcohol, foods heavy with additives like MSG, sodium, or sugar can all sap our bodies of the fluids we need.
The first signs of dehydration can vary. But they are fairly common. These can include:
- Extreme thirst
- Dark urine
- Loose skin
- Dry mouth and tongue
- Bad breath
- Mood swings
These signs, if caught in time, are not dangerous. If you have been working all day and are noticing any of these symptoms, have a drink of water. Have several.
This isn’t a serious health risk if you are able to notice them. But if they start to get worse, the symptoms will worsen, as well. It can be very difficult as a parent or caretaker for someone to know if they are dehydrated.
If people are unable to tell you, encourage them to have a drink. Water, juices, herbal teas, and sports drinks will help bring their hydration levels up to a healthier level.
More Severe Dehydration
If the dehydration is left unattended, the symptoms will start to get a lot worse. These signs are important to watch for if someone is unable to express their feelings to you.
Their mood may get worse and they may lash out or become angry. They could also show signs of depression, anxiety, they may seem tense or even confused or addled, which is a serious sign.
Your blood pressure can drop and this can also have a lot of other side effects, all surrounding the dehydration problems. As your blood contains water, your blood pressure will drop when it is losing too much fluid.
People may feel like they are in pain or react to something much more severely than they ought to due to dehydration. It can exacerbate existing pain, or make new pain seem quite heightened.
They may become nauseated, and if they do vomit, will lead to more fluid loss. Nausea can also be a sign of low blood pressure from dehydration. Be aware if there is discoloration or blood in the vomit.
Fainting is another sign someone has lost too much body fluid. Lightheaded from not getting enough fluids can be a stand-alone concern but also linked back to the dropping blood pressure.
Heart racing or heart palpitations can also be a sign of dehydration and a rather scary one for people. If they are not sure why they are feeling that way, they may think it is much worse than it is. These symptoms also can be present with low blood pressure.
Confusion or Lack of Concentration
Someone may be confused, have trouble remembering things, become angry, or even seem to have trouble concentrating on very simple things. These can be dangerous for people who may be driving or operating equipment.
Dangers of Dehydration
When we don’t drink enough water, our bodies start to panic and certain organs will take water and fluid from wherever they can find it. It’s not uncommon for people to avoid drinking a lot of fluids as they need to urinate frequently or wake up in the night too many times.
Try to drink enough water every day, include fresh fruits and vegetables, and avoid certain foods, if possible. Potato chips, soy sauce, and even high protein diets can cause dehydration.
It doesn’t take long for the mild symptoms to shift to more severe ones. If you exercise a lot, work outside or do physical labor, or even just avoid drinking too many fluids due to frequent trips to the restroom, you may actually be putting your health at risk.
Try to make a conscious effort to consume more fluids that will hydrate and pass through the body.