7 Common Signs and Side Effects of Dehydration Explained

Hydration is one of the most important, yet forgotten, factors of living a healthy life. Our body is roughly

60% water and drinking is important to keep it that way. Severe dehydration is life threatening and hard to

achieve if you are living in an area with access to clean water. However, chronic dehydration is a problem

that can negatively affect your health, weight loss efforts, exercise/sport performance and can make

specific daily activities difficult. It’s very easy to go days without drinking enough water, the body responds

by protecting the systems that are crucial to your survival such as the heart, however this happens at the

expense of other non-essential systems/organs such as your skin, muscles etc.  Your body’s metabolism will

start to slow down and other areas will start displaying symptoms. Here are 7 common signs and side-

effects of dehydration.


1) You feel hungrier than usual

If you are ever constantly hungry between meals it could be that you are dehydrated. The body

will often send hunger signals when dehydrated. If this is the case, try drinking 2 cups of cold

water between meals and monitor your hunger. Cold water also slightly speeds up your



2) You have frequent headaches

Dehydration will affect your brain and can result in headaches that can be solved with simply

drinking more water. Although there are many other causes of headaches, dehydration is one of

the common ones. Next time you have a headache try drinking more water.


3) You experience pain in your joints especially when exercising

Water is very important for joints such as your elbows and knees. Your body produces a lubricant

that allows the bones in your joints to move with no friction. If your body doesn’t produce enough

of that lubricant you will feel pain in your joints especially when exercising. Water is a crucial

ingredient in the production of this important lubricant. Make sure you drink 300-500 ml before

you exercise and keep drinking as you lose water during exercise.


4) Your skin and lips are constantly dry

This is one of the most common and immediate signs of dehydration. Your skin needs water to

stay healthy and clean. Our skin is also the body’s largest organ and so if we have a shortage of

water our body will tend to save water by reducing the supply that goes to the skin. Remember the

skin is not a crucial organ for body survival and the body has more important organs to reserve

water for.

5) Low blood pressure

Dehydration can cause low blood pressure at times. Have you ever felt suddenly dizzy with

slightly blacked out vision right after you quickly stand up after sitting down for a while? You

could be dehydrated.

6) Decreased trips to the bathroom

This one is self-explanatory and a very important sign of dehydration. If you find your trips to the

bathroom decreasing then you are dehydrated. Dehydration is also a big cause for constipation.

7) Constant cramping and decreased performance during sports

Whether you are an athlete or simply playing for fun, dehydration will decrease your performance

by a large percentage. Our muscles and cardiovascular system needs water to function at full

capacity. Losing as much as 2-3% of your body weight in water during physical activity can

significantly affect your performance. Make sure you drink enough water while playing sports.

Aquatic athletes are at a larger risk of dehydration because they have no way to monitor their

water loss (sweating), a good way to measure water loss is to weigh yourself before and after your

activity, drink 1.5x the weight you lost after your exercise/sport. For example: Pr-exercise weight:

80 kg, post-exercise weight 79.2 kg, therefore drink (80 kg – 79.2 kg) X 1.5 = 800 ml X 1.5 = 1200

ml (1.2 litres).

Proper hydration has countless benefits for the body such as increased metabolism, increased

mental focus, faster muscle recovery, increased fat loss and much more. Make sure you drink at

least 3 litres (Men) and 2.2 litres (Women) per day. This amount significantly varies depending

on the level of your activity and the temperature you live in.

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