You probably know that water is très important for all healthy life function. In fact, about 60% of your body is made up of water. For it to continue to function properly, it’s crucial that you consume enough water on a daily basis. “Hydration is key to helping all the organs in our system work efficiently,” says Dr Sanjay Aggarwal, a general physician at Holistic Healthcare Centre in Delhi.
Just as hydration helps everything run smoothly, dehydration — which occurs when you’re taking in less fluid than you’re using or losing — can lead to all sorts of breakdowns in bodily processes. So, how much should you be drinking? Anupam Dey, a Kolkata-based dietician, says the average person should drink about two litres of water a day, and more in high temperatures or if you’re particularly active. “Dehydration can be caused by drinking less than that, but also by things like diarrhea, vomiting, fevers, excessive sweating, and increased urination,” says Dey.
But what actually happens to your body when you reach the point of dehydration? Read on for five possible symptoms and complications:
An imbalance of fluids can affect your digestive system. “We tend to think of fibre as the primary solution to constipation, but water is equally important. Fibre helps to pull out toxins in the gut system, but those toxins can’t exit our system without being flushed out, and for that we need water,” says Dey.
Your skin gets irritated
If your body isn’t getting enough water, the effects can also show on your skin. Dr Aggarwal says dry skin, which lacks oil, is different from dehydrated skin, which lacks water. However, there are some similar symptoms, particularly flakiness, itchiness, sensitivity, tightness, and dullness. According to Dr Aggarwal, dehydrated skin can also be prone to breakouts.
If your body isn’t getting enough water, the effects can also show on your skin. (Shutterstock)
You’re more likely to experience a bladder, kidney, or urinary tract infection
Kidneys and water have a sort of symbiotic relationship. Dr Aggarwal says the kidneys work to regulate your body’s water balance, but they also flush out the waste from your bloodstream and along with your liver, they act your “body’s natural filtration system.” They need water to work properly, and if they don’t have enough to do their job, you could wind up with bladder and urinary infections. “In addition, the mineral and salt deposits that naturally accumulate in your kidney require water to break down. Without it, those deposits can turn into very painful kidney stones,” says Dr Aggarwal.
You feel hungry even when you’re not
“A lot of times, people confuse dehydration for hunger. If you’ve just eaten but you’re not feeling satiated, try downing a glass of water to see if your body is really asking you for a snack. Research indicates drinking water can help fill you up,” Dey says.
You feel distracted, confused, tired and maybe dizzy
Dehydration can do a number on both energy levels and cognition, making it difficult to stay alert. In fact, Dr Aggarwal calls it the most common reason for daytime fatigue and can also lead to mood changes, including increased anger. “All of our body’s systems rely on the oxygen delivered by our blood to function. When that blood delivery is challenged by dehydration, none of our organs work at the level they should, causing sluggishness of not only the body but also of the mind and leading to short-term memory problems and difficulty focusing.”
The best way to prevent any of this from happening is to follow the recommended intake of two liters of water a day, which can be in multiple forms. Dr Aggarwal points out that you can get necessary fluids from foods, including soups, fruits, and vegetables, as well as drinks that contain water, including coffee, tea, milk and 100% fruit juice, as long as you watch your calorie intake.
First Published: Oct 27, 2018 10:12 IST