What Happens To Your Body When You’re Dehydrated?

Dehydration isn’t just thirst—it affects the processes that make your body work. Find out more about what happens when you’re dehydrated here!

May 08, 2017 | HF Healthy Living Team

Much of your body—between 50 and 75 percent—is made of water. This water helps your body balance chemicals, regulate your temperature, form saliva that allows you to eat, cushion your bones and brain, keep your joints working, move energy from food to your muscles, and flush out waste.

Your body loses water when you sweat, breathe, and go to the bathroom. When you lose too much water to carry out normal functions, you become dehydrated. Even mild dehydration (losing as little as 1.5% of the water in your body) can affect your focus, alertness, and short-term memory and make you feel tired, irritable, anxious, and more.

Find out more about how dehydration affects your body below.

Dehydration Infographic
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How to Prevent Dehydration

Anyone can become dehydrated. Infants and children are at high risk, especially when sick. People with chronic conditions—including diabetes and kidney disease, and those on medicine that affects urination, appetite, or thirst—can also easily become dehydrated. As you age, your body’s fluid reserve shrinks and your thirst response dulls, so older adults are also at risk for frequent dehydration.

You can help prevent dehydration by:

  • Keeping track of your fluid intake. Drink water when you’re thirsty, throughout the day, and at meals. Carrying a water bottle with you during the day may help you remember to drink water.
  • Knowing the signs of dehydration, which include fatigue, loss of appetite, flushed skin, dizziness, and dry cough
  • Drinking water instead of soda, alcohol, and caffeinated drinks that cause your body to lose fluid
  • Paying attention to the color of your urine—the darker it is, the more dehydrated you are. Urine should be light yellow to clear.

The amount of water you need to drink to stay hydrated depends on your age, weight, gender, activity level, and more. A highly active person needs more water than an inactive person. You also need more water in hot weather than in cold, because you will likely sweat more. Talk to your doctor if you have questions about how much water you need, and don’t miss these tips on staying healthy (and hydrated) in the summer heat!

 

© 2017 HF Management Services, LLC

Healthfirst is the brand name used for products and services provided by one or more of the Healthfirst group of affiliated companies.

This health information or program is for educational purposes only and not intended to treat, diagnose, or act as a substitute for medical advice from your provider. Consult your healthcare provider and always follow your healthcare provider’s instructions.

Sources
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http://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/avoiding-dehydration

“Dehydration,” NHS Choices. April 13, 2015.
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“Dehydration,” Mayo Clinic. October 29, 2016.
http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dehydration/symptoms-causes/dxc-20261072

“From bad breath to car accidents, dehydration is a real health threat,” CNN. July 2, 2015.
http://www.cnn.com/2015/06/01/health/dehydration-body/

“Here’s What Happens to Your Body When You’re Dehydrated,” Science Alert. February 5, 2016
https://www.sciencealert.com/here-s-what-happens-to-your-body-when-you-re-dehydrated

“Lack of Drinking Water Deteriorates Human Body: Adverse Effects of Dehydration,” Medical Daily. April 16, 2015.
http://www.medicaldaily.com/pulse/lack-drinking-water-deteriorates-human-body-adverse-effects-dehydration-329640

“Water & Nutrition,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. October 5, 2016.
https://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/drinking/nutrition/index.html

“What Happens to Your Body When You’re Dehydrated,” DNews. August 18, 2015.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AujXYEabz3U

“Water, Hydration and Health,” National Institutes of Health. August 1, 2011.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2908954/

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