7 signs you may be chronically dehydrated without realising

There’s no escaping it — it’s hot! The extreme heat we’ve been experiencing in Australia lately means it’s more important than ever to pay attention to your hydration.

Whether you’re working in the heat or sitting in an air-conditioned office, it’s easy to become dehydrated if you don’t drink enough water or the right type of fluids. In fact, if you’re thirsty, you’re already dehydrated.

Why is water important?

Around 60% of the human body is made up of water. Water acts as a vital nutrient and building material for every cell in our body — without water, they would die.

Signs of dehydration:

We all know the signs of acute dehydration — dark coloured urine, extreme thirst, dizziness and even rapid heartbeat. If you’re experiencing this, you should see a GP right away.

But did you know that your body can become chronically dehydrated? This happens when you consistently drink less water than your body needs to function optimally, or when your body doesn’t hold on to the water you drink. The symptoms are a little more difficult to spot than acute dehydration, so here’s what to look out for:

  1. Fatigue — if you’re feeling constantly tired, it could be because your cells are in need of more water to carry out their basic functions like energy production.

  2. Muscle weakness or cramping — adequate hydration is essential for proper muscle contraction, so if you’re dehydrated it can result in weakness or painful muscle cramps.

  3. Headaches — your brain is made up of about 70% water, so keeping hydrated is crucial for proper brain function and to prevent shrinking. When you become dehydrated, your brain reacts by triggering a headache which can get worse as you lose more water.

  4. You’re hungry — your body often mistakes thirst for hunger. If you’ve eaten enough but you still feel peckish for water-based foods like fruit, this is your body reminding you to drink some more fluids.

  5. Clogged pipes — water is essential for flushing food waste through your bowels and out of your body. If you don’t have enough water in your body, your poo will become dry and hard to pass, leaving you constipated.

  6. Dry or flaky skin — if you want to look youthful, hydration is important to keep your skin from sagging. Dry or flaky skin is a common sign of moderate to severe dehydration.

  7. Difficulty regulating your temperature — your body needs water to regulate temperature. When you’re overheating, your body sweats to lower its temperature through evaporative cooling. While this can bring down your temperature, it leads to more water loss. When you’re dehydrated, you won’t sweat much and can quickly overheat.

How to treat chronic dehydration

If you believe you may be chronically underhydrated, drinking more water is the obvious first step. However, it’s a little more complicated than that.

  • Drink up! And not just at the end of the day when you remember you haven’t had enough water. Adults need about 35 millilitres of water per kilogram of body weight. But rather than pull out the calculator, aim for a litre of water early in the day and then drink as you get thirsty throughout the day. You may need to drink more if you’re working in hot conditions or exercising, so invest in a stainless steel drink bottle and keep it with you!

  • If you always forget to drink enough, we recommend installing a hydration app on your phone. There are so many to choose from, but Daily Water and Hydro Coach are two of the most popular. You can also use a large pitcher or drink bottle as a visual reminder of how much you still need to drink.

  • If you don’t like the taste of plain water, we love adding a little natural flavour with the help of fruit. Try adding lemon or lime, or try berries with a sprig of mint! Experiment until you find something that works for you.

  • It’s important to make sure you’re drinking the right water. That’s right — not all water is created equal, so it’s a good idea to make sure you’re using a good quality filtration system. Start your day with a glass of warm lemon water. Not only is this great for hydration, but it also helps detoxify your system.

  • Alcohol is a huge dehydrator so you should try to limit your intake. While coffee, tea and sugary drinks can contribute to your total fluid intake, nothing hydrates quite as well as filtered still water.

  • If you’re chronically dehydrated, drinking water may not be enough. You may need some extra help from electrolytes. Make sure to choose one that doesn’t contain artificial sweeteners. Chronic dehydration is a serious condition which can have lasting health implications. If you think you may be chronically dehydrated, it’s important to seek help.

By staying hydrated throughout the day, your body will be able to regulate its temperature, your brain will be able to think clearly and you’ll have more energy to get things done! So what are you waiting for? Drink up!

Have you been living with a health condition for years that hasn’t responded to conventional medicine effectively? Or are you simply not feeling your best?

Click here to download our free guide with tips and steps you can take to feel well again, naturally. This guide covers everything you need for healthy living – diet, sleep, stress and supplements.

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Disclaimer – This website is designed to inform clients about ways to possibly improve their health. The opinions of the Mullen Natural Health Centre are our opinion only. Please consult your own healthcare provider to determine the best course of treatment for you.

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