Despite the fact that water is an essential dietary resource for nearly every living organism on the planet, most of us really don’t drink enough of it. In fact, it’s estimated that 40-43% of all American adults aged 20-50 consistently fail to meet the recommended daily intake for their age and size. Elderly adults and children are even less likely to be getting enough.
By now we’re all aware of the “eight daily glasses” rule of thumb. However, factors like activity level, weather conditions, and health circumstances can mean some people need more water than others. The following are just a few of the signs you should be drinking more.
1. You suffer from chronic dry mouth.
Most people instinctively seek to alleviate dry mouth by reaching for something to drink. However, more than a few of those folks don’t reach for a glass of water the way that they should. Instead, they reach for sugary alternatives like juice or soda. While these are better than nothing when it comes to hydration, they’re not anywhere near as effective as water. Make sure you’re addressing that familiar thirsty feeling with options that will give your body what it craves.
2. You’re super thirsty a lot of the time.
Anyone who’s ever had the misfortune of waking up with a hangover is already familiar with what it feels like to be truly thirsty to the point of dehydration. It’s almost as if your body can’t get enough water all of the sudden. That’s because a long night of drinking seriously dehydrates the body. If you feel that way a lot, regardless of the circumstances, it could well mean you’re not drinking enough water as a rule.
3. You feel like you’re hungry a lot.
Occasionally, when you’re really dehydrated, your body gets confused and thinks it’s hungry instead of thirsty. This can happen throughout the day, as well as in the middle of the night. The next time you feel inexplicably hungry, even though you’ve eaten recently, try reaching for a glass of water first to see if it alleviates the craving.
Keep in mind that a substantial amount of our hydration needs are found in the water content of our food. For those looking to cut back the calories, you might find your body in need of more water as you reduce your caloric consumption.
4. You have trouble with your digestive system.
Water is a huge and very necessary part of all your major body functions, and digestion is no exception to that rule. Just as your mouth and throat need to be kept hydrated in order to function properly, so does the rest of your digestive system. If you’re chronically dehydrated, your stomach can’t produce enough protective mucus to guard it against its own digestive acids. Chronic heartburn and indigestion can be the result.
Your colon also requires a great deal of water to help stay lubricated and functioning. Without it, you’ll be constipated a lot – another major sign you’re not drinking enough water.
5. Your joints hurt.
Would it surprise you to learn that the cartilage in your joints and spine is comprised of about 80% water? It’s part of what makes it such an excellent cushioning system for your bones. If you’re chronically dehydrated, the chances are pretty good that your joints bother you a lot. Without that watery cushioning system in place, your bones are grinding together too much as you move around. Your joints are also less able to absorb shock or recover from injury.
Not only does dehydration contribute directly to reduced joint function, dehydration can also increase your sensitivity to pain. This further compounds the sensitivity in your joints and can lead to some real aches and pains.
6. You often feel lethargic, tired, or fatigued.
Everyone can feel really tired or out of sorts now and again. However, if you feel this way pretty much all the time, it can be a sign that you’re not drinking enough water. When you’re dehydrated, your body may reach a point where it “borrows” the water it needs for its essential processes from your blood. When your blood isn’t properly hydrated, it can impair the delivery of oxygen to your cells. This leads to a lack of energy, as well as serious fatigue.
Chronic dehydration has been implicated as a factor in a huge variety of serious medical conditions. Unexplained fatigue can often be an early warning sign of something much more serious, or it could simply be your body trying to let you know its not getting what it needs.
7. You don’t urinate very much.
Urination is more than just your body’s way of eliminating excess liquid. It’s also an important process when it comes to detoxifying your system. That said, if you rarely to never have to urinate, you’re probably not drinking enough. (Normal healthy people feel the need to pee 4-7 times daily on average.)
Another clear sign that you’re probably not drinking enough is urine that is dark yellow or orange in color. The urine of a person who’s drinking enough water is very light yellow in color, if not nearly clear.
8. You have really dry skin.
Your organs aren’t simply limited to those on the inside like your stomach, heart, and kidneys. Your skin is an organ as well, so it needs to be kept properly hydrated just as urgently as all the others. That said, chronically dry skin is usually one of the earliest signs of ongoing issues with dehydration. If left unaddressed, dehydration can lead to additional skin issues like acne.
Note that in the world of dermatology, there is a distinction between dry skin and dehydrated skin. Dry skin is a skin type where the body produces little of its natural lubricating oils. Dehydrated Skin is the result your body’s dehydration affecting your skin. Dehydrated skin tends to flake, crack, have a “dull” appearance, and feels or appears tight. Recognizing dehydrated skin can be a major indicator that you’re not drinking enough water.
9. You seem to get sick constantly and stay that way for a long time.
As touched on above, drinking enough water makes it possible for your body to adequately flush toxins and waste products from your system. Without enough water, your organs have a harder time staying on top of that task, and illness can be the inevitable result. If you feel like you catch every bug that goes around, you take longer than average to recover from illness, or you simply feel just a little bit sick all the time, dehydration could be a factor.
While the exact effects of hydration’s role in the immune system is still a cloudy question for research scientists, studies in humans have already shown that hydration plays an important role in regulating the immune system.
Staying Properly Hydrated
Of course, realizing that you probably need to be drinking more water is one thing. Actually accomplishing that is another. Many people find it easier to drink more when their water tastes good. Consider investing in a water filter for your home. Not only will your water taste better, but it will be purer and better for you as well.
What’s more, modern water filters come in many styles, so finding one that fits your needs and lifestyle should be simple. Try installing a water filter for faucets on your kitchen sink or a reverse osmosis water filter that fits under your sink or counter. Before long, you’ll be wondering why drinking enough water was ever a problem!
You’ll also want to stay hydrated when you’re out and about. Bottled water is no good for your wallet or for the environment. Instead, get yourself a good water bottle and you’ll have a stylish incentive to stay hydrated.
More Hydration Tips
Have a read through Why Proper Hydration Is Essential Everyday for some more reasons to stay hydrated. You might also find these 3 Incredible Infographics on the Health Benefits of Water to be of interest!
Thanks for reading and remember to stay hydrated!
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We explore some of the most common symptoms of dehydration that you might be experiencing everyday without even realizing.
Phil McNamara is a drinking water industry expert. He has been engaged in the study of water issues since shortly after graduating from college and shares his expertise on the Water Filters FAST website. When he’s not keeping up on the latest water filters and purification systems, he likes to spend his time exploring the beautiful landscapes of Arkansas.