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Signs You are not Drinking Sufficient Water

March 2019

Karen Ensle EdD, RDN, FAND, CFCS
Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Union County

The average adult body is made up of between 55-60 percent water, which is an indication as to why it's so important to replenish these vital stores. Below are some of the symptoms associated with not drinking enough water.

  • Dry skin that does not improve even using lotion daily. It's normal for our skin to change with the seasons. Dry skin lacks sebum (oil) and should respond to the application of oil-rich products. When skin loses its luster due to dehydration, start by drinking more water each day.
  • A dry, sticky mouth and feeling thirsty is a sign of dehydration. These dry conditions in your mouth can cause a serious case of bad breath. A dry mouth and increased thirst can be a sign of something more serious so making an appointment with your dentist is a good idea.
  • Headaches often accompany a state of dehydration. According to the National Headache Foundation (NHF), headaches are actually a common sign that someone is experiencing mild to moderate dehydration including a migraine! The NHF suggests drinking only water when experiencing headaches and avoiding sugary or overly salty sports beverages, which can worsen the dehydration.
  • Tiredness and lack of sleep adds to dehydration. Fatigue can seriously affect your sense of well-being, ability to concentrate, along with feeling clumsy and prone to accidents. Sipping the right amount of water throughout the day might clear it up.
  • Gaining weight may be a sign of dehydration. Studies have shown that drinking as little has 500ml (about 17 ounces) of water can boost your metabolism by up to 30%. Many health and wellness experts advise an increase in water consumption among other tips for losing and maintaining weight.
  • Constipation is often the result of not drinking enough fluid and eating enough high fiber foods. Get into the habit of drinking plenty of water throughout the day. After you've increased your intake, you should notice an improvement in your bathroom activities. If not, check with your medical professional just in case something else is going on.
  • Urinary tract infections or UTIs often arise after bacteria has entered into our bodies through sexual intercourse or failing to wipe from front to back after using the bathroom, or dehydration. Drinking water helps to flush bacteria from our bladders, thus preventing infection from setting in. Warning signs that our water intake is too low include dark colored urine or a decreased need to urinate at all.
  • Moodiness may be caused by lack of fluids. Some research has shown that just mild dehydration can lead to neurological changes that affect our ability to focus and can cause irritability. Even more shocking is that you only need to be 1 percent below your optimal level of hydration to feel these negative effects.

Follow the Institute of Medicine's adequate intake guidelines. Fluid intake should be 13 cups for men and nine cups for women. Obviously, if you are sweating, increase your intake accordingly and use common sense. If it feels like you have had enough water, respect your body. Remember, if you feel thirsty, you are probably already mildly dehydrated. If your mouth feels parched, take small steps and drink a cup or two of water? to get back on track!