7 Basic health problems that might secretly be a sign you're super dehydrated
Our bodies are 70 percent water, but I'm sure you already knew that. What you might not know is that between walking, thinking and going about our daily lives, we use up a lot of water, and we don't always replenish that to the highest standards.
Hydration is the WD40 to the reliable-but-rusty bicycle that is the human body, but chances are, by the time your mouth feels like it's full of cotton wool and your pee is a muddy brown colour, you've been hydrated for a long time without realising. Perhaps you've been experiencing one of these odd, previously unexplainable health problems?
1. You're thirsty
Let's get the most obvious one out of the way first - if your body's telling you to drink water, then it's probably a good idea to drink some water. Dr. Sean McCaffrey, founder and health practitioner at McCaffrey Health Clinic, explains the science behind that. "Our body is borrowing water and allocating it to other areas in need. This creates the feeling of thirst within us, which is a sign that liquids need to be replenished," he explains. But if you're actually thirsty, then you're actually very dehydrated.
2. Bad breath
Have you been brushing, flossing and chewing on gum or mints excessively, but can't seem to shake that stank breath? Keep doing those things - dental health's very important - but maybe it's time to introduce your system to that sweet H2O as well. Without enough water, your body's not producing enough saliva, which acts as the bouncer for all those lingering barfly bacteria who refuse to leave your mouth once it's closing time. What's more, that bacteria will begin to multiply, and once that happens you've got a bit of a bad breath problem.
3. You've got dry skin
I don't know about you, but I feel that dry, scaly skin just isn't a good look for me. If your skin's abnormally dry and no amount of lotion or exfoliation is helping, then maybe it's time to consider your level of hydration. "When we are dehydrated then our bodies cannot perform properly and cannot flush out toxins. Without adequate moisture our skin becomes dull, drawn, and dry, instead of plump and moisturized," explains Dr McCaffrey.
4. You're having a lot of headaches
With the various stresses of daily existence, life can sometimes be a headache - even if you got fired from your job of smashing coconuts with your skull. But your daily water intake can have a huge effect on how many headaches you get - not to mention their intensity. Unsurprisingly, Dr McCaffrey's got some science to break down the dehydration-induced headaches: "When we are dehydrated, the tissue in our brain loses water, which results in temporary brain shrinkage. As this happens, our brain contracts from our skull, setting off the pain receptors, resulting in a headache."
5. You've got some serious brain fog
Do you occasionally wake up on a late Saturday morning, completely sober, but somehow feeling like you have a hangover? Hangovers are usually caused by a lack of post-drinking hydration, but it's just a taste of what your brain's like without enough water in it - where your motivation is through the floor and so's your thought-processing ability. Dr McCaffrey (again) explains that our lack of focus is mostly down to our body having to compromise certain processes until we're properly hydrated once more. Water transports nutrients to the brain, taking out toxins, and when that can't happen, our level of focus suffers.
6. You're craving sugar
Okay, I mean, for some of us this might be a hard thing to try to quantify - you mean there's supposed to be times where I don't want to eat some ice cream or a nice chocolate cake? "Yes", says my nutritionist, and more importantly, Food Addiction Solutions agrees. It's all down to a carbohydrate in your muscles called glycogen. When you're dehydrated, your body uses glycogen much more rapidly, and as a result, starts to seriously crave sugar to make up the glycogen levels once again. It's also why you seriously crave sweet stuff right after a workout.
7. Your sleep patterns are all out of whack
One of the keys to good health is a good night's sleep. For proper cognitive function, mental health and even cardiovascular health, getting your consistent eight hours is a huge help, but sometimes, that just doesn't seem possible. Try having a drink of water; going to bed even slightly dehydrated could lead to dry nasal passages, leg cramps or snoring - all of which will straight up ruin a good night's sleep. One more thing - make sure you have your glass of water before 8pm, otherwise you're going to have to make a late-night trip to the bathroom. Not ideal.
Well, folks, I hope you've all learned something about proper hydration. I sure have. So let's raise a glass of the colourless stuff, and toast to a night of soft skin, proper brain function and a good night's sleep.