There is a dehydration crisis in the nation, but sadly, most people do not realize it. Some estimates state that as many as three-quarters of all Americans might be chronically dehydrated. This can have many negative effects on health and wellbeing. Even with this knowledge in mind, making the necessary lifestyle changes to drink more water is often easier said than done. This article looks at the alarming rate of dehydration, some signs and symptoms, possible reasons, and some solutions.
What Is Dehydration?
Many people associate dehydration with countries and environments where there are drought and water shortages. Many parts of the world do face serious challenges in obtaining clean water, which can lead to severe dehydration and early death, especially in very young children. The condition of dehydration can be very subtle and often affects those who are not experiencing any water access challenges.
Water is a vital part of all human body functions. It constituents over 90% of the blood and about 60% of the human body. Water is important not just for the transport and circulation of nutrients and waste in the blood, but for the various metabolic reactions that occur in the cells. Without enough water, cell functions slow down leading to a number of undesirable consequences.
It has been recommended that adults drink about eight 8-ounce glasses of water each day or the equivalent of a cup of water for every 20 pounds in body weight. Without enough water, dehydration is inevitable.
Signs and Symptoms of Dehydration
There are different levels of dehydration, and for most people who are somewhat dehydrated, they can continue with the normal day-to-day lives without the need for hospitalization. This also means that the signs and symptoms of this condition are fairly easy to miss. Besides not drinking enough water, dehydration may be caused by excessive fluid loss as a result of different illnesses.
The most common signs and symptoms of mild dehydration include thirst, dry mouth, dry skin, reduction in urination and darker-colored urine, headaches, and muscle cramps. If no action is taken, this can proceed to severe dehydration. The symptoms of this include a further reduction in urination or the production of very dark yellow urine, rapid breathing and heartbeat, lethargy, confusion, sleepiness, sunken eyes, and even fainting. Dehydration in infants is a matter of urgency because of their small body sizes and their increased vulnerability.
Barriers and Solutions to Increasing Water Intake
There are numerous barriers that prevent people from drinking enough water daily. Besides accessibility, knowledge and information are some of the biggest hurdles. Many people are not aware of the importance of drinking plenty of water. Many people believe that because they do not like the taste or tastelessness of water, they can get by with other beverages such as fruit juice, tea, or soda. While these drinks are made up of water primarily, they do contain sugar, and so, moderation must be exercised. Pure water is important and should not be substituted entirely.
Another reason for the ongoing dehydration crisis is that the signs and symptoms are often overlooked. When someone is feeling sleepy, lacking energy, and experiencing headaches, it’s easy to believe that getting more sleep is the easiest fix. While this could be right, a glass of water is a much-overlooked possible solution.
In many other instances, people merely forget to drink water. The solutions to these challenges are often simple and easy to implement. Some practical ways to drink more water include keeping tabs on how much water you are drinking daily, setting reminders or some kind of schedule for when you are going to drink water, and taking water when you experience the symptoms outlined.