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What Happens When I'm Dehydrated?

By Edited Apr 14, 2014 0 1

The human body is made up of about two-thirds water. We need to drink it in order to maintain healthy body functions. We need to drink it in order to live. Without it, humans would be nothing more than dried skin stuck to brittle bones. In addition to humans being two-thirds water, bones are 25 % water, the human brain is 75% water and human blood is 83% water. Imagine if you can a giant sized piece of beef jerky and that's what humans would be without water. Even though water is so important to us, many humans do not drink the recommended daily amounts needed.

Water is involved in every function your body performs. It is the primary component of every cell in your body and all body fluids including: blood, lymph, saliva, cerebrospinal fluid, intestinal juices, gastric juices, and pancreatic juices. Water prevents DNA damage and makes repairs more efficiently. Water increases the efficiency of the immune system in the bone marrow, including against cancer. Water also suppresses your appetite naturally and helps metabolize stored fat. It can help maintain proper muscle tone by giving muscles the ability to contract. Water helps the body rid itself of waste and can relieve constipation. It carries nutrients and oxygen to the cells, lubricates joints, regulates body temperature and protects body organs and tissue. Water can even help reduce stress, anxiety, and depression In short, water, is essential to life.

Another important part of a healthy body is electrolytes. Electrolytes are the chemicals in the body which are required for regulating nerve and muscle function and other physiological functions. Sodium, potassium and chloride are important electrolytes in the body. Sodium regulates the amount of water in the body. The movement of sodium results in the electric signals required for communication between different cells. Potassium is important for regulation of heartbeat and muscle functions. Sodium and Potassium are positive ions whereas Chloride is a negative ion which is used for maintaining the fluid balance in the body.

When the body doesn't get the water it needs, it becomes dehydrated. Dehydration is when the water that exits the body is greater than the amount of water entering the body. One of the main causes of dehydration is simply not drinking enough water. Other causes of dehydration are diarrhea, vomiting, diabetes and sweating. Sometimes people do not even know that they are suffering from dehydration so it is important to know the symptoms. When you are dehydrated you will usually have one or more of these symptoms: dry mouth, lightheadedness, your eyes may not be able to make tears, and you may be unable to sweat. In addition to this, you urine will become a dark yellow, almost brown color. When the body gets less water, it perceives this as a threat to survival and begins to hold on to every drop. Water is stored in extracellular spaces (outside the cell). This shows up as swollen feet, legs and hands. Once a person realizes that they are dehydrated, they may try to fix the situation by drinking coffee or something other than water. This is not a good idea. It is a common error to substitute tea, coffee, caffeine-containing soft drinks, or alcohol-containing beverages for water. Do not consider alcoholic beverage, soda, coffee or tea as an equal substitute for water. Caffeine and alcohol act as diuretics, further increasing your water needs. When you drink alcohol in excess, you usually end up with a hangover headache the next day. The most obvious source of headaches due to hangovers is dehydration caused when alcohol suppresses anti-diuretic hormone. This hormone normally orders the body to conserve water, but alcohol dulls the command, causing people to lose far more water to urination than they take in with the alcohol. Being dehydrated effects the inside of the body as well as the outside. For example, it is common in cases of dehydration, a person's kidney's starts to fail. . As dehydration progresses, the volume of fluid in the intravascular space decreases, and blood pressure may fall. This can decrease blood flow to vital organs like the kidneys, and like any organ with a decreased blood flow; it has the potential to fail to do its job. Other complications of dehydration are seizures, swelling of the brain, heat injury and comas.

If you are dehydrated, there are several ways to get your hydration levels. The first and most important way, is by drinking water. Studies used to say drinking 8 glasses of water a day is sufficient in maintaining a healthy body regardless to what you weigh. Now there is a more precise way in finding out how much water you need to remain healthy. To find out how much water you need, take your weight in pounds and divide it by two. The answer is what you should be drinking in ounces. I will use my weight to show an example of this equation. I weigh 172 pounds so I would divide my weight by two. 172 divided by two is 86. I should be drinking 86 ounces or almost 11 cups of water a day to ensure healthy body functions. I am sad to say that I am lucky if I drink half that much.

Another way to keep hydrated is to eat or drink clear liquids. Clear liquids can be Jell-O, clear soup broths, popsicles and other replacement fluids that may contain electrolytes such as Pedialyte, Gatorade, or Powerade. Severe dehydration requires treatment by doctors with intravenous solutions containing sodium chloride. The intravenous solution is given rapidly at first and then more slowly as the physical condition improves.

Hopefully this article will help you grasp how important it is to stay hydrated and what happens to your body if you do not.



Jun 16, 2010 2:11pm
Very educational read.
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