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!
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.
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:
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!
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“Water & Nutrition,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. October 5, 2016.
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