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  • Writer's pictureMiranda Welton

Dehydration - The Importance of Drinking Water

Its winter time and we need to take care of our kidneys, which in turn help our bones. There are many ways we can help both. Taking daily exercise, weight bearing exercise for the bones, using sea salt in place of table salt, and not over doing the use of salt but its essential to have some. Ensuring our calcium and potassium levels are good, green leafy vegetables lightly steamed are also full of nutrients. But one very important substance is available to most of us via the tap. This is Water, Adam's Ale, the Elixir of Life - the most important substance for mankind's health. We are 70% water. When we are dehydrated we can suffer from all manner of health concerns. Read below to find out more. Personally I prefer to use a water filter to remove chlorine and other toxins, and prefer filtered water to bottled water, which is mainly stored in plastic which has other health concerns as well as concerns for our planet.

Dehydration (hypohydration) is the removal of water (hydor in ancient Greek) from an object. Medically, dehydration is a serious and potentially life-threatening condition in which the body contains an insufficient volume of water for normal functioning.

Typical signs of dehydration are:

  • Bad breath

  • Dry skin

  • Muscle cramps

  • Fever and chills

  • Food cravings, especially for sweets

  • Headaches

  • Dry mouth

  • Constipation

  • Lack of Energy

  • Breathlessness

In Touch for Health we test dehydration as part of our pre checks to ensure the body is ready to be worked with.

In the book "The Biophysics Basis for Acupuncture and Health" – 2 Dec 2004, Dr. Shui Yin Lo (Author) explains that “Meridians are made up of a polarized medium, which is most likely stable water clusters with permanent electric dipole moments. This basically confirms the folklore that water is the source of life. We can actually see some parts of the meridians in some people, some of the time, using an infrared imaging technique”. His book is in depth research into the meridian system.

Preventing Dehydration

Water is one of the most important nutrients in our body. It makes up approximately 70 percent of our muscles, and about 75 percent of our brains. We use water as well as expend it. In fact just in everyday breathing we lose about two cups of water. Other ways that we lose body water is through sweating and urinating. If we fail to replenish these losses, we set ourselves up to become dehydrated.

If our body sense’s low water stores it will tell the kidneys to conserve the water instead of excreting it (darker colored urine will result). Dehydration can also lead to constipation and bloating as well. Some other symptoms of dehydration include dry mouth and tongue, apathy and a lack of energy, and muscle cramping.

The kidneys are located at the back, waist height. Backache can simply be dehydration.

In kinesiology the Psoas Muscle - which stabilises the hip, and inserts onto the femur, (leg bones), the lumbar spine, and attaches onto the diaphragm - is linked to our Kidneys. It’s the kidneys job to maintain our body's water balance. Lack of water can literally leave us out of breath when we exercise or walk, due to this muscles need of hydration.

If left untreated, dehydration can lead to heat exhaustion or heat stroke. These symptoms include:

  • fatigue

  • dizziness

  • nausea

  • vomiting

  • headache

  • rapid shallow breathing

  • high temperatures

  • rapid heart beat

  • decreased alertness or complete loss of consciousness

To hydrate:

  • Drink plenty of fluids: on average it is recommended to consume at least 8- eight ounce glasses of fluid a day

  • Sports drinks can encourage active people to drink more fluids because they are flavoured and are higher in sodium

  • Avoid caffeinated beverages and alcohol, both contain substances that will cause dehydration

  • Avoid carbonated beverages because the carbonation may cause bloating or a feeling of fullness and prevent adequate consumption of fluids

Water can have lime or lemon added to enhance it.

For most of us, being aware and prepared is the easiest way to prevent dehydration from occurring. On hot humid days, an active person can become dehydrated in just 15 minutes. If you experience any of the symptoms above, stop the activity and rest in a cool area. Then drink fluids to replenish the water lost. The term "volume depletion" is similar to dehydration, but it refers to the loss of salts as well as water.

Dehydration is loss of water and important blood salts like potassium (K+) and sodium (Na+). Vital organs like the kidneys, brain, and heart can’t function without a certain minimum of water and salt. In underdeveloped countries, dehydration from diseases like cholera and dysentery kills millions every year (usually infants and children). Still, with severe vomiting or diarrhoea and occasionally with excessive sweating, you can become dangerously dehydrated.

Symptoms of early or mild dehydration include:

  • flushed face

  • extreme thirst, more than normal or unable to drink

  • dry, warm skin

  • cannot pass urine or reduced amounts, dark, yellow

  • dizziness made worse when you are standing

  • weakness

  • cramping in the arms and legs

  • crying with few or no tears

  • sleepy or irritable

  • unwell

  • headaches

  • Dry mouth, dry tongue; with thick saliva

  • Cold hands or feet

  • Rapid breathing

  • Confusion

  • Dry lips

  • Dry mouth

Symptoms of moderate to severe dehydration include:

  • low blood pressure

  • fainting

  • severe muscle contractions in the arms, legs, stomach, and back

  • convulsions

  • a bloated stomach

  • heart failure

  • sunken fontanels - soft spot on a infants head

  • sunken dry eyes, with few or no tears

  • skin loses its firmness and looks wrinkled

  • lack of elasticity of the skin (when a bit of skin lifted up stays folded and takes a long time to go back to its normal position)

  • rapid and deep breathing - faster than normal

  • fast, weak pulse

  • back pain (kidney area)

  • spinal pain

  • weakened vertebrae

In severe dehydration, these effects become more pronounced and the patient may develop evidence of hypovolemic shock, including: diminished consciousness, lack of urine output, cool moist extremities, a rapid and feeble pulse (the radial pulse may be undetectable), low or undetectable blood pressure, and peripheral cyanosis. Death follows soon if re-hydration is not started quickly.

Six basic symptoms of dehydration:

1. Bad breath: Saliva has antibacterial properties in it, but dehydration can prevent your body from making enough saliva. “If you’re not producing enough saliva in the mouth, you can get bacteria overgrowth and one of the side reactions of that is bad breath from chronic dehydration,” says John Higgins, MD, associate professor of cardiovascular medicine at the University of Texas in Houston, and chief of cardiology at Lyndon B. Johnson General Hospital.

2. Dry skin: “A lot of people think that people who get dehydrated are really sweaty; but as you go through various stages of dehydration, you become very dizzy and you don’t have enough blood volume so you get very dry skin,” Dr. Higgins says. He adds that because the skin is dry and not evaporating as well, you can also experience flushing of the skin. Think you can’t get dehydrated in cooler seasons or climates? Think again. Higgins says symptoms may be milder or come on slower, but it’s still possible to be dehydrated or suffer from heat illness in cooler weather.

3. Muscle cramps: “The hotter you get, the more likely you are to get muscle cramps, and that’s from a pure heat effect on the muscles. As the muscles work harder and harder, they can seize up from the heat itself. Changes in the electrolytes, changes in the sodium and potassium can lead to muscle cramping as well,” according to Higgins.

4. Fever and chills: It might sound counterintuitive, but if your body is severely dehydrated you may experience symptoms like fever or even chills. Fever can be especially dangerous, so be sure to seek immediate medical help if your fever rises over 101°F.

5. Food cravings: especially for sweets. “When you’re dehydrated, it can be difficult for some nutrients and organs like the liver which use water to release some glycogens and other components of your energy stores, so you can actually get cravings for food,” Higgins says. While you can crave anything from chocolate to a salty snack, cravings for sweets are more common because your body may be experiencing difficulty with glycogen production, he says. Craving something sweet? Reach for a snack that has high water content. Most fruits and vegetables have high water content and will help you stay hydrated, explains nutrition expert and Everyday Health columnist, Johannah Sakimura. “In fact, some fruits and vegetables are more than 90% water — including cantaloupe, strawberries, watermelon (of course), cucumber, celery, lettuce and leafy greens, zucchini, tomatoes, and bell peppers,” Sakimura says. “Yogurt also supplies a good amount of water.”

6. Headaches: The brain sits inside a fluid sack that keeps it from bumping against the skull, explains Higgins. If that fluid sack is depleted or running low because of dehydration, the brain can push up against parts of the skull, causing headaches.

Supportive References:

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