It’s more than just feeling a little thirsty.
And it can be pretty serious if left untreated.
Today we will take a look at what it is scientifically speaking, how it’s caused, and some naturopathic health treatments to combat it.
Scientifically Speaking, What Is Dehydration?
Simply speaking, dehydration occurs when your body loses more fluid than it takes in.
Depending on the type of fluid lost, dehydration can be hypotonic (loss of electrolytes such a sodium), hypertonic (loss of water), or isotonic (loss of both water and electrolytes).
Water makes up over two-thirds of the human body, and is vital for many important functions, such as lubricating your joints, facilitating digestion, and keeping skin healthy.
Losing as little as one to two percent of your bodies water can cause you to become thirsty.
What Happens When You’re Dehydrated?
Because water plays such a vital role in the functioning of your body, you may have drastic reactions when you become dehydrated.
Aside from just feeling thirsty, it can cause a decrease in brain tissue fluid, which results in changes in brain volume.
Also, you blood can become thicker, which means your heart has to work harder to pump blood through the body.
Other symptoms of severe dehydration included irritability, confusion, lack of sweating, lack of tears, and low blood pressure.
What Causes Dehydration?
Aside from simply not drinking enough water there are other causes of dehydration, which often go along with other symptoms or illness.
Diarrhea and vomiting can result not just in loss of fluids, but also loss of minerals and electrolytes as well.
This can also be made worse when combined with a fever, which generally results in losing even more fluid through sweat.
Excessive sweating due to prolonged vigorous activity, and not replenishing fluids can also lead to dehydration.
Finally, increased urination due to diabetes, or certain medications can lead to dehydration.
Complications From Dehydration
Although mild dehydration may just result in a dry mouth, dry skin, or headache, severe dehydration carries with it worse symptoms.
Chronic dehydration can result in kidney stones, constipation, and electrolyte imbalances.
Natural Solutions For Dehydration
If you think you are dehydrated, it is quite often something which you can solve on your own.
That said, severe dehydration can be life-threatening.
If you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms of severe dehydration, such as confusion, rapid heartbeat and breathing, fever, or unconsciousness, go to an emergency room or call an ambulance immediately as measures such as IV fluids may be required.
However, if dehydration is not severe, there are some easy ways you can address it yourself.
1. Drink More Water
This one may seem obvious, but if your body doesn’t have enough water, the best thing to do is drink more of it.
Although eight-to-ten glasses of water per day (about 2 litres) is generally recommended, you may need more if you are exposed to high temperatures, or working out.
Diet, age, and general activity level can all factor into how much water your body needs, so being aware of your levels of thirst and early symptoms of dehydration is key.
2. Include More Hydrating Foods
Foods which are high in water content can also help to stave off dehydration.
Fruits and vegetables with a high water content include celery, watermelon, cucumber, kiwi, bell peppers, citrus fruits, carrots, and pineapple.
Cultured dairy foods such as yogurt and kefir are also good options.
Additionally, limiting high-sodium foods, such as bread, cured meats, and cheese can help, as they can be dehydrating.
3. Replace Lost Electrolytes
Many people get bored of just drinking plain water all the time, and although water is important, it is also vital to replace electrolytes, which can be done with alternatives to water.
Before you run out and stock up on Gatorade, which can be full of sugar, consider other healthy alternatives, such as coconut water, fruit smoothies, herbal teas, kombucha, or bone broth.
4. Make Sure You’re Hydrating During Exercise
Drinking water before, during, and after a workout is important for maintaining fluid levels which can be reduced due to sweat.
If participating in prolonged or vigorous exercise, than replacing electrolytes is also particularly important, however be mindful of added sugar in sports drinks.
5. Watch Your Hydration Levels When You’re Ill
Monitoring water intake when sick is important, especially if your illness is causing vomiting, diarrhea, or involves a fever which is causing you to sweat a lot.
During this time, electrolyte drinks may also be helpful.
Contact Annex Naturopathic
Are you worried about dehydration?
Perhaps you can’t seem to get enough water, or you still feel chronically thirsty, despite getting your eight-to-ten cups per day.
Annex Naturopathic can help.
Contact us today to set up a consultation – we will review your health history and come up with a personalized treatment plan individualized to you.
Yours in Health,
Annex Naturopathic Clinic is a clinic in Toronto that offers integrative healthcare solutions from Drs. Marnie Luck, ND, and Tanya Lee, ND