The most natural resource that is abundant in this planet is water. All living things need it to survive. In other words, without water, no plant, animal or human being will be left on the planet without it. But of all the living things on Earth, we human beings have the most need for this substance. This is because we use H2O for many different uses, including cooking, personal hygiene, laundry, housekeeping, recreation, gardening, etc.
Another reason that makes this resource essential to human life is that our bodies are made up of 80 percent water. Our brain is 85 percent water, blood 80 percent and muscles 70 percent. If we do not drink enough water, it could lead to various illnesses. The lack of water in the body could lead to death. In fact, humans can only survive for three days without water supply. This is because every living cell in the body requires water to function properly.
As you can see, water is indeed life not only for us humans, but also for plants, animals and other living things. Where do we get water?
- Surface water – water that falls to the ground as hail or rain. It is collected from an area called a “catchment,” which are usually placed in areas that are far from human population to prevent pollution. It distributes water into a holding area through creeks, streams and rivers. The water is then stored in a manmade or natural barrier called a reservoir or dam. To ensure that water is sent through these barriers successfully, dams are placed at the lower area of a valley.
- Rivers, springs lakes – water supply for some towns are drawn directly from nearby lakes, springs and rivers.
- Rock catchment areas and holes – there are large rock holes or outcrops that can catch water. Towns or cities take advantage of these natural dams and build walls to increase the amount of water that can be trapped into these rock catchments.
- Rainwater tanks – some homes may choose to collect rainwater through gutters that lead through a pipe to a storage tank.
- Excavated dams – these are usually used by farmers for their stock. Some communities scoop out soil and create massive shallow holes to place excavated dams. But this can only be done in areas that have soil that does not drain water easily through the ground, which are called impervious soils. For places that wish to have excavated dams but with no impervious soils, they line the dug up area with clay or impervious liners, like concrete or heavy plastic.
So, what happens when there is a very low supply of water in the body? You become dehydrated.
Dehydration: What is it?
Dehydration occurs when the body loses more water than the amount taken in. Although we naturally lose water every day through sweat, urine ad stool, if the amount lost is more than what we take in, that is when dehydration happens. As a result, our bodies could become out of balanced or dehydrated as it disrupts the body’s usual levels of sugars and salts, interfering with bodily functions.
There are many ways to lose a lot of water in our bodies. These include the following:
- Diarrhea, vomiting and increased urination due to an infection
- Too much heat exposure
- Sweating excessively
- Certain diseases, like diabetes
- Injuries to skin, such as mouth sores, burns, severe skin infections
- Disability that can decrease a person’s ability to drink the recommended amount of water every day
- Lack of access to safe drinking water
Signs and Symptoms
When your body is losing too much fluids, its initial response is thirst to urge you to increase you water intake. It also decreases water output to conserve fluids. But as you lose more water, more symptoms of dehydration could surface. Here are some of them:
- Sweating could stop
- Dry mouth
- Eyes stop producing tears
- Decreased urine output
- Muscle cramps
- Nausea and vomiting
- Heart palpitations
- Sunken yes
- Low blood pressure
Naturally, the body maintains the amount of blood being pumped by the heart throughout the body. If the intravascular space loses too much fluid, your body compensates for it by increasing heart rate and causing blood vessels to constrict to maintain blood pressure and blood flow throughout all your internal organs. When that happens, blood is pumped away from skin and into the different organs, making the skin feel clammy and cold. As dehydration becomes worse, this coping mechanism starts to fail. This could result in weakness and confusion. In left untreated, it could result in organ failure, coma and eventually, death.
Here are some of the illnesses that are the effect of dehydration:
- Premature aging
Our bodies are made up mostly of water, which means that we depend heavily on it in order for our organs to function properly. Aside from that, water helps fight free radicals that cause the early signs of aging to surface. So, if you don’t drink enough water, premature aging can occur, especially on your skin and internal organs.
- High levels of bad cholesterol
When there is not enough water supply in your system, your body compensates for it by producing more bad cholesterols.
- Excessive weight gain
No, this doesn’t mean that water can make you lose weight. But, it does play a crucial role in your weight loss plan. This is because water stimulates the elimination of toxins and waste products in your body, which could make you gain a lot of weight. Aside from that, water can help you feel fuller and to maintain a healthy metabolism.
- Digestive problems
There should be enough water in your body for solid waste to be properly eliminated. This means that the lack of water could prevent your intestines from removing waste from your body, thus causing constipation. Aside from that, dehydration
In order for our cells to function properly, we need water. So, if you suffer from dehydration, your internal organs and cells could cease to function properly. This could result in lack of muscle strength, low in endurance and fatigue. This explains why you will feel sleepy, easily tired and lethargic. Infants and small children may be irritable and fussy.
Mild to moderate dehydration could cause a headache. This is why you might notice that your headache goes away after drinking several ounces of water. If you are severely dehydrated, you might also feel lightheaded and confused.
If the body loses too much water, it tries to compensate for it by pumping blood faster than normal. This results in an increased heart rate, a disorder called tachycardia or tachyarrhythmia.
- Decreased urine output
When you have a hard time peeing or there is a significant decrease in the volume of your urine, it is your body’s natural coping mechanism to dehydration as it tries to conserve fluid loss. In severe cases of water loss, it could lead to permanent kidney damage. Dark or strong smelling urine may also be signs of dehydration.
- Low blood pressure
Low blood pressure is an effect of moderate to severe dehydration. This is because low fluid intake causes a significant decrease in blood flow, thus causing low blood pressure. This explains why patients might feel dizzy when dehydrated.
- Increased sugar cravings
When you are dehydrated, it is sent to your brain as a signal for hunger, especially sugar cravings. This usually occurs if you have been exercising too much. This is because your body’s supply of glycogen is used up at a faster rate whenever you engage in physical activities. As a result, your body craves for carbs or sweets to refill your glycogen levels.
- Dry skin
If you drink more caffeinated drinks than water, chances are, your body becomes dehydrated. This is also true if you are a health buff and work out for hours every day. Doctors recommend to hydrate from within, which is why you need to drink lots of water if you’re a regular gym fixture or are a coffee fiend.
Dehydration: How to cure it naturally?
Water cannot be supplemented by another fluid. So, if you lack water in your system, you need to replenish by increasing your fluid intake. Here are the natural ways to treat dehydration:
- Increase water intake
This is the first and most effective way to cure dehydration at home. So, sip small amounts of water throughout the day. You should also drink electrolyte- filled drinks. It’s also recommended to suck on popsicles made from juices or sports drinks, as well as frozen bottled water or ice chips at regular intervals to effectively replenish water loss in your body. Those living in temperate climates should drink 13 cups or 3 liters of water.
- Homemade ORS
When you are dehydrated, your sugar and salt levels are disrupted. This is why it is recommended for you to drink oral rehydration solution. To do this, add ½ teaspoon salt and six teaspoons sugar to a container filled with four cups drinking water. Stir well until the salt and sugar are dissolved completely. Drink the solution several times a day until you feel an improvement in your health.
If you lose too much water due to vomiting or diarrhea, you can effectively treat dehydration with yogurt as it is an excellent source of electrolytes. For mild to moderate dehydration, eat a cup of plain yogurt multiple times a day. You can also mix a bit of cottage cheese in it. Another way to cure loss of water is to eat plain boiled rice with yogurt and salt.
- Rice gruel
Also known as congee, it is a thick rice porridge fed to patients suffering from diarrhea-induced dehydration. To normalize the levels of electrolytes in the body, feed the patient with a bowl of rice gruel with a pinch of salt.
- Watery fruits and vegetables
These are fruits and vegetables with high water content. These include cantaloupes, bananas, watermelons, strawberries, cucumbers, tomatoes, zucchinis, eggplants and more. These can be given to those who may be showing signs and symptoms of dehydration. You can prepare a salad containing these fresh watery goodness to regularize fluid levels in the body.
- Bananas and raisins
Dehydration means you lose essential minerals, like potassium. One of the most effective ways to replenish your potassium levels is to eat bananas and raisins, as these are excellent sources of this mineral.
- Coconut water
Another quick way to cure dehydration is to drink coconut water. It’s high in electrolytes, as well as potassium and iron. In fact, it’s a better relief for chronic dehydration.
- Vinegar bath
Severe dehydration can cause muscle cramps and aches. A vinegar bath would be beneficial in easing these symptoms.
Add apple cider vinegar to warm water. Then, take a warm bath to soothe and relax muscles.
- Epsom bath
Not many people know this, but Epsom salts are high in magnesium. People who are suffering from dehydration can soak in an Epsom bath for 10 to 15 minutes to reverse the different symptoms. Doing so can also cure fatigue and muscle soreness.
Too much sweating due to high-intensity workout or rigorous activity can cause dehydration. Salty food, like salted nuts, crackers or biscuits can help balance the electrolytes in the body. You can also add a pinch of sea salt to your drinking water to help fight the negative effects of dehydration.
This black tea is known to the Chinese as the “Immortal Health Elixir.” It has been used in the Far East for more than 2,000 years because of its incredible health benefits. It’s also believed to be one of the best natural treatments for dehydration because of its good bacteria that has amazing health benefits. It can also help treat and prevent cancer, joint paint, detoxification and digestive problems, to name a few.
Dehydration: Who are more at risk?
Older people who have no access or have a scarce supply of drinking water are more susceptible to dehydration. Seniors also lose the ability to feel thirsty or have gotten used to experiencing symptoms of dehydration are also more at risk. People who are chronically ill, especially those who are constantly suffering from diarrhea and vomiting lose a lot of electrolytes and experience most of the symptoms of this condition.
Dehydration is also common in people who are living in high-altitude or humid areas. This is because they may not have enough access to water supply. High-endurance athletes, military personnel, construction workers, miners and farmers may also have a limited supply of water, which could result in water loss.
Patients taking certain medications that can affect electrolyte balance or water supply of the body are also at high risk for dehydration. Similarly, those suffering from kidney conditions may also experience the symptoms of dehydration due to the fact that their vital organs are no longer able to regulate blood and flush out minerals, including sodium, magnesium and potassium.
Dehydration in adults isn’t as serious as it is in small children. Millions of children around the world die each year due to this condition. Most of the cases are due to diarrhea in infants. This is because their sweat mechanism and temperature regulation aren’t well developed yet, increasing their risk of heart-related diseases. This is why it is essential for parents to provide them enough water to prevent dehydration, especially when they are suffering from diarrhea, vomiting or fever.
Dehydration: How to prevent it?
It’s extremely important to drink plenty of water every day. The goal is to drink half of your body weight in water each day to ensure your body does not lose significant amounts of fluid due to sweating, vomiting, etc. For example, if you weigh around 160 pounds, you need to drink at least 20 ounces of water 4 times a day to increase water consumption.
Packing on fresh fruits and vegetables that are high in water content also helps you prevent dehydration. A clinical research on schoolchildren found that daily intake of fruits and vegetables improved the students’ hydration status significantly. This is why you should include lots of celery, melon, cucumber, carrots, citrus fruits, bell peppers, spinach, broccoli, berries, cauliflower, radishes, tomatoes and pineapple in your diet. Aside from that, you should increase your consumption of fresh produce right in electrolytes, like calcium, potassium and sodium. These will help you keep hydrated. A study found that adding electrolytes to plain water decreased overall water loss.
Exercise is also important to prevent dehydration? Yes, you may lose a lot of fluids in the form of sweat when you work out. But exercising can regulate circulation in your body, keeping you hydrated at all times. Aside from that, walking, jogging, weight training and other forms of exercise can improve overall electrolyte levels, ensuring proper distribution of nutrients throughout your cells.
Dehydration is not a serious condition. But if left untreated, it could also be fatal because the body cannot survive without water for a long time. Furthermore, water loss can also lead to serious health conditions, including heart problems, kidney damage and even seizures. So, drink plenty of water and other fluids every day.