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What are the Effects of Dehydration On the Body?

Dehydration is a condition that can affect anyone, and contrary to popular belief, you can still become dehydrated even if you have not been sweating or if it is not hot outside. Dehydration can also be chronic (occurring multiple times for long periods of time). Depending on the severity of your dehydration, it can have dangerous effects on your body. However, even mild dehydration can take a toll on several of your body’s systems.

This article will discuss how dehydration can affect different body systems, such as gastrointestinal, neurological, and skin issues.

Gastrointestinal issues

Dehydration depletes your body’s levels of calcium, magnesium, and water. Not having enough of these substances in your system can lead to acid reflux, gastritis, and stomach ulcers. This is because your stomach cannot produce digestive acid if it does not have enough water. According to a number of studies, you can avoid severe acid reflux caused by dehydration if you drink water because it temporarily improves the pH balance in your stomach.

Constipation is another gastrointestinal symptom of dehydration. You need to have an adequate amount of water in your stool in order for it to move smoothly through your intestines. When you are dehydrated, your large intestine (also called your colon) will absorb the water in your stool. This dries out your poop and makes it harder for the stool to move through your intestines and out of your body. That is why constipation causes pain and discomfort.

Bloating and nausea are usually due to overeating, as you probably would have guessed. But what does this have to do with dehydration? The thirst associated with dehydration can be mistaken for hunger because your body is not able to differentiate between the two when you are dehydrated. You should drink water before eating a meal. This will help you determine whether you are actually hungry or just thirsty. And if you are still hungry after drinking some water, you are likely to eat less because the water you drink will make you feel somewhat full. This can help you avoid overeating and experiencing bloating and nausea that are related to dehydration.

Dehydration can also cause bad breath (halitosis) because your body produces less saliva when you are dehydrated. Not having enough saliva can also make you feel like you have food stuck in your throat. This condition is called dysphagia.

Neurological issues

Your brain consists of about 85 percent water, and your body consists of about 70 percent water. Your brain relies on water for energy, thinking, remembering, and producing hormones and neurotransmitters. Your brain cannot store water, and your brain and body constantly lose fluids through perspiration, breathing, peeing, pooping, and other functions. Staying properly hydrated will afford you quicker thought processes, sharper focus, and increased overall mental clarity.

On the other hand, not being well-hydrated can take a toll on your brain function in several ways. Studies have found that being just one percent dehydrated can lead to up to a 5 percent decrease in brain function. If your brain becomes two percent dehydrated, you will likely experience short-term memory loss and find it difficult to do the math. Chronic dehydration can shrink the mass and size of your brain cells. This is common among elderly people because they likely have had chronic dehydration that has lasted years.

There are several sleep issues and mental function issues that can result from dehydration. Dehydration can make you tired in the afternoon and cause other sleep issues. You may also have difficulty focusing and feel less mentally clear (brain fog). Dehydration can also lead to depression.

Skin issues

There is a difference between dry skin and dehydrated skin. Dry skin is cracked and possibly bleeding skin that does not have enough natural oils to retain moisture adequately. If your skin is dehydrated, it does not have enough inner moisture.

Moisture is critical for your skin to be able to do its job, protecting your body from outside environmental factors and injury.

If you are dehydrated, your skin may appear dull and flat because it lacks the hydration required to shine and look vibrant.

Dehydration can make your skin feel itchy and more prone to bacteria entering your skin.

Large wrinkles form due to age, genetics, and sun exposure. No matter how well you maintain hydration, you will have wrinkles on your skin at some point in your life. However, staying hydrated can keep your skin plump and prevent you from developing fine lines and small wrinkles.

Lack of fluids can cause the skin around your eyes to retreat from your eye sockets. This can give your eyes a sunken look and cause darkness under your eyes.

Dehydration can also impair your skin’s ability to stretch, leading your skin to become loose under your eyes, which causes bags under your eyes.

You can do a pinch test to check for dehydration. Use your thumb and index finger to pinch your arm and pay attention to whether your skin relaxes back into position in the next few seconds. If it does, you are adequately hydrated. If it does not, you will know you need to drink something as soon as possible.

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