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
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.