The Inertia Health Editor
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Photo: Shutterstock.


The Inertia

Drinking water is hands down one of the best things you can do for your health. It requires little effort, and there are literally zero negative side effects to drinking plenty of water each day. Water helps bodily processes run smoothly and helps flush toxins as well. Hydration is especially important for outdoor athletes like surfers and snowboarders, as both the ocean and the mountains are incredibly dehydrating environments.

That being said, most of us don’t drink all that much water. We might eat water dense vegetables, or sip on herbal tea instead to stay hydrated, and that is totally fine. However, if you’re not keeping track of how much water you’re taking in each day, you may be experiencing symptoms of chronic dehydration and not even realize it.

Below are 7 symptoms of dehydration. Some of them might seem obvious, while others might surprise you. Regardless, be mindful of any of these signs. If these symptoms seem all too familiar, consider increasing your water intake.

 

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You’re Tired

Obviously, this one can be caused by other things as well. For example, maybe you haven’t been getting enough sleep, or you haven’t been sleeping well, or you have low iron. However, if everything else adds up, and you think you should have more energy than you actually do, dehydration may be the cause of your exhaustion.

Instead of turning to coffee first thing in the morning, sip on a glass of water first. Oftentimes our bodies are dehydrated first thing in the morning, and adding caffeine to the mix only makes the problem worse.

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You Have Bad Breath

This is one symptom I had no idea was tied to dehydration. Normally, saliva has antibacterial properties that keep your mouth clean and your breath fresh, provided you aren’t eating onions or garlic or other stinky foods.

However, when you regularly aren’t drinking enough water, and your body becomes chronically dehydrated, the body stops producing saliva. Your mouth might not be totally dry, but you’re not making enough saliva to kill the bacteria. Some people experience bacteria overgrowth, and as a result, their breath stinks.

 

Food Cravings

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Experiencing strong food cravings? Although this can also be tied to hormones, dehydration is another cause of cravings. When you’re dehydrated, your body has a difficult time using glycogen from the body’s energy stores. As a result, you may crave foods that would provide you with more energy, especially sugary foods.

Instead of reaching for the chocolate bar, grab a water dense snack like a few celery sticks, watermelon, strawberries, or cucumber slices. These foods provide your body with a small energy boost, and they also help hydrate the body.

 

You Feel a Little Moody and Out of Focus

A recent study links dehydration to mood. It turns out that mild dehydration can cause an increase in moodiness and a decrease in an individual’s ability to concentrate. If you’re feeling a little low after lunch (especially after a salty meal), grab a cup of water. It may help you get through the afternoon doldrums better than that afternoon cup of coffee.

 

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You Have a Headache

This is a classic symptom of dehydration. If you find yourself experience frequent, mild to severe headaches, you may not be drinking enough water. The brain sits in a comfortable sack of fluid, but if you become dehydrated this fluid may become depleted. As a result, your brain may press slightly against the skull, causing a headache.

To stop a headache in its tracks, grab a cool glass of water as soon as you feel one coming on. It may be able to keep the ache at bay. If the headache continues be sure to drink another glass or two before grabbing an advil or aspirin.

 

You Have Dry Skin

When you’re dehydrated, your blood volume decreases. This reduces blood flow, and hence, water flow to the skin. The result? Dry, irritated skin. However, this doesn’t mean your skin stops producing oil. If you find that your skin is both oily and flaky, red, or dry, you probably need to drink more water regularly. Additionally, consider using hydrating skin products to help your skin get back in balance.

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You’re Irregular

Water is a necessary product for the digestive system to move smoothly. If you find you have trouble going, try drinking more water. It not only helps the food moving through, but it keeps the intestines flexible.

 

2 Additional Tests

These two tests are simple indicators of your level of hydration. They may not be perfectly accurate, but they should give you a good idea of whether or not it’s time to chug some water.

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The Skin Test

For this test, use two fingers to pinch about a centimeter or so of skin on the back of your hand (in between the wrist and the beginning of the fingers). If the skin bounces fails to spring back instantly, you are most likely dehydrated.

 

The Pee Test

This test is as old as time. Clear pee is good. Sightly yellow pee is ok. However, if your pee starts to look yellow, chardonnay, or orange, you need to drink water immediately. If your urine turns orange, your body is over 5% dehydrated, which is considered very severe.

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