Dehydration could be a sign of something worse, a condition in itself or a side affect of illness. Water is so important to the function of our bodies that it affects almost everything to not get enough. Read on to find the lesser known signs that show that you need more water in your life.
- Dark urine
Let’s start with the one everyone knows. Yellow is bad, clear is good right? Wrong. There is such a thing as too much water, as it can rob your body of electrolytes. Clear pee isn’t a reason to panic, but if it’s a constant norm you might need to cut back a little.
On the other hand, dark yellow urine could indicate you need to get some more water into your diet, which, let’s face it, is more often the case.
- Bad breath
Dehydration could cause your body from not making enough saliva, which is also a good indicator of being dehydrated by the way, but since saliva has anti-bacterial properties, it could lead to a bad stench in the mouth.
Bad breath is caused by a bacterial overgrowth in your mouth, which healthy, cleansing saliva can avoid. Much like you would wake with morning breath after eight hours of not touching a drop, bad breath can develop throughout the day if you’re not drinking enough water. Bad breath can also be prompted on by sugar-filled drinks like sodas and juices which encourage the growth of bacteria in the mouth.
- Dry mouth, lips, and eyes
Did you ever notice your lips dry and think, “It’s no where near winter yet”? You could go into the shops and buy all the lip scrubs, lip balms and whatever new item the beauty influencers are peddling, but there’s a solution that’s a lot simpler and cheaper: you need more water.
Do you notice your eyes feel itchy, sore, gritty, or sensitive to light? If you notice your eyes feel dry, maybe it’s hard to open them in the morning, you need some more water in your system. It could also be the weather, or whether you wear contact lenses, or your constant staring at a computer screen, but water will help keep them moist whatever the cause.
- Food cravings
Our minds like to trick us, and we can trick them back. There are guides online pointing out that if you can’t get the idea of chocolate out of your mind, it’s possible what you really want is the magnesium in the chocolate, so you should reach for some avocado or nuts instead.
Your body craving water, specifically the liver using water to release stored glucose, will have your brain thinking you’re craving food because it’s using up your energy stores. Commonly these represent as sweet cravings, so a glass of water with some fruit juice in it will kill two birds with one stone.
Headaches caused by dehydration make sense when you think about it. You’re on a night out, you drink too much, you wake up with a killer headache. The alcohol did that? Yes and no. The alcohol dehydrated you, more than most things would, leading to the headache.
Headaches piggyback on various illnesses because they cause dehydration. Diarrhea, vomiting, fever, a lot of sweating, heat stroke and heat exhaustion all will cause dehydration, and all will cause a headache. They can differ from general headaches in their symptoms. If you have low blood pressure, a rapid or irregular heartbeat, a dry mouth, a lack of sweating or muscle cramps, you might need to reach for a bottle of water. Or in severe cases, a drip. Contact your doctor if you have a fever over 104 degrees Fahrenheit. You can also read this helpful guide for more information on dehydration headaches.
- Muscle cramps
If you’ve been exercising in a warm environment, your muscle cramps could be due to dehydration. Drinking water during a workout is a given, but if your muscles keep cramping, keep drinking. And don’t assume you’re safe in cooler weather. The cramps may be milder and slower but they’re coming.
Muscle cramps can also be a symptom of heat illness, which is when the body loses enough fluid and it can’t cool itself down. You might be suffering from heat illness if you notice a heat rash with your cramps. These can lead to heat exhaustion and heat stroke, so be careful. Stay hydrated by drinking every 15 minutes, even if you’re not thirsty and rest to ease the cramps. Also, put a cold compress on any heat rashes.
Dehydration can also cause dizziness or vertigo, which can feel like swaying or floating. This is caused by a lack of water having an impact on your circulation. Dehydration might lower your blood pressure, causing blood to not reach your brain as much as it should, resulting in dizziness.
If you’re feeling lightheaded, sit down and have someone pass you a drink. Move slowly and hold onto something to avoid falling. And avoid driving for the time being.
If rehydrating isn’t helping anything you might need to seek medical attention. If you have a rapid heart rate, you’re confused or disoriented or have diarrhea or vomiting for over 24 hours, you should see a doctor.
- Dry skin
Rather than the common assumption of sweating, dehydration can be seen in the state of your skin. Flakey or peeling skin, especially after a sunburn, is a sign that you need more water in your system.
And might I add, acne-prone skin is also a sign that you’re not getting enough water. Water will get rid of dead skin cells and will help you avoid building up toxins that are a cause of acne as well as flushing out contaminants and pollutants. Keeping hydrated supports immune function, regulates blood sugar levels and promotes natural detoxification. All those dozens of bottles and morning routines you researched so thoroughly may just be a sign that you need more water.
Jacob Hatch is the author and founder of Hydration Anywhere. He has been actively writing about drinking water since 2013. These days Jacob spends most of his time investigating water related news, studying environmental issues, reading health studies, and reviewing products like water bottles and water filters.