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What Does Dehydration Do to My Body?

Last Updated on: August 4, 2021

Reviewed By: Jessica Herzog, MD, FAAP, ABioM

water pouring into glass from echo h2 pitcher

We all know that water is a necessity for life, but are you getting enough water? Drinking less water than your body needs can lead to dehydration and a whole host of health issues. Discover just what happens to your body when you become dehydrated.

Water is the nectar of life. Every living thing on the planet needs water to survive, but you can’t get by with just a little bit. In order to keep a healthy mind and body, you need to make sure that you are drinking enough water and not getting dehydrated.

What Are the Health Benefits of Water?

We all know that water is essential for life to survive, but what exactly does water do for your health and body? Water makes up between 50% and 70% of human body weight. Every cell, organ, and tissue in your body requires water to work properly. (1) As a result, water helps your body to: (1,2)

  • Regulate body temperature
  • Remove waste and toxins via bowel movements, urination, and sweating
  • Lubricate joints
  • Protect sensitive tissues
  • Carry nutrients and oxygen to cells within the body
  • Normalize blood pressure
  • Support proper digestion
young woman drinking water at home
Water helps ensure that everything inside of the body works properly.

How Much Water Should You Drink Daily?

You’ve probably heard that you need eight glasses of water a day to stay hydrated. While this is a good baseline, the amount of water you need each day actually depends on a variety of factors, such as your age, health, activity level, whether you are pregnant or breastfeeding, and the climate you live in. (1)

Generally speaking, healthy adult men should drink about 15.5 cups of fluid a day, and healthy adult women should have about 11.5 cups daily. Your fluid intake doesn’t have to be just glasses of water; you can also receive fluids from foods and other beverages that have a high water content. In fact, about 20% of your daily fluid intake comes from sources other than a straight glass of water. (1)

young woman drinking water at home
Dehydration, or lack of adequate water intake, can lead to a variety of health issues.

What Is Dehydration?

Dehydration is a condition that occurs when your body loses more water than the fluid you take in. As mentioned before, water makes up about two-thirds of a healthy human body. However, if you do not have enough water in your body, you can experience an imbalance in minerals, which can lead to the improper function of different bodily systems. (3)

When you think of dehydration, you may think of movies or shows that depict people suffering from severe thirst and hallucinations. However, dehydration doesn’t have to be that severe to affect your body. Each cell within your body needs water to function properly, and your cells need that water to be replaced continuously. If your cells don’t get the fresh water they need, your body will tell you that you are dehydrated by making you feel thirsty. (4)

However, many of us have suppressed this thirst mechanism. How? By generally living more sedentary lifestyles. So even though you may not feel thirsty, your body may be experiencing dehydration and begin to experience a variety of health issues. (4)

9 Things That Can Happen to Your Body if You Are Dehydrated

If you do not drink enough water, your body can quickly begin to experience the symptoms of dehydration. Our friendly Synergy Science™ Hydro Bro goes over nine different things that can happen to your body when you become dehydrated. Check out his video or read below to learn just how dehydration can affect your body.

Darker Urine

One of the earliest signs of dehydration is darker urine. Normally, your urine should be a yellowish color, which will become clearer with the more water you drink. However, if you are not drinking enough water, your urine will be a dark amber color. (5) This is because, when you are dehydrated, your brain signals the release of an antidiuretic hormone. Once this hormone reaches the kidney, it triggers aquaporins, which are water channels that allow your blood to retain more water than usual. As a result, the small amount of water you are drinking is channeled to your blood and does not leave your body via urine as it normally does. This shows up as darker colored urine. (6)

Shrinking Brain

Three-quarters of the human brain is made up of water. That alone should be reason to drink enough water every day. If the brain does not get enough water, it will actually start to shrink. This makes your brain work harder to accomplish the same tasks as a normal, hydrated brain. (6)

young woman with a headache
Dehydration can cause the brain to shrink, which can lead to severe headaches.

Headaches

As the brain shrinks due to lack of water, you may experience what is called a secondary headache as the brain pulls away from the skull. The headaches you experience as a result of dehydration and a shrinking brain can range anywhere from a relatively mild headache to a severe migraine. (7)

Mood Swings

Studies show that even mild dehydration can influence your energy, mood, and your ability to think clearly. (8) One study found that young men and young women with mild dehydration experienced fatigue and greater difficulty with tasks. The young men also experienced tension and anxiety. (8)

When your body is deprived of necessary fluids, you can experience a decrease in alertness and perceive normal tasks as more difficult. Add in the headaches, fatigue, and confusion, and it’s no wonder you would have some irregular mood swings! (9,10)

Grinding Joints

When your body doesn’t have enough water for everything to work properly, joint pain can result. This is because water is used to lubricate your joints. Between the bones in each joint, there is a thick lubricant called synovial fluid that gives your bones a cushion so they don’t grind against each other. Not only that, but the fluid also works as a shock absorber and lubricant. If you are dehydrated, you can experience less lubrication between joints, which can result in pain and discomfort. (11)

Increased Body Temperature

A major role of water in the body is to regulate your body temperature. As you lose water, you hinder your body’s ability to naturally regulate its temperature, causing hyperthermia, or an increased core body temperature. When you experience hyperthermia, your cells can begin to shrink as your body borrows water to maintain other bodily functions, such as preventing your blood from becoming too thick. (12)

Dehydration can also lead to a condition called orthostatic hypotension, or low blood pressure. As a result, you may experience dizziness, lightheadedness, fatigue, and weakness. (13)

young woman holding glass of water
Improper fluid intake can cause your body temperature to rise, which can contribute to low blood pressure and other conditions.

Impaired Digestion

A common side effect of dehydration is slower digestion or constipation. Studies show that dehydration can lead to aggravated gastrointestinal function. Not only that, but it can also lead to slower gastric emptying, which is the process by which the contents of your stomach empty into your small intestine. (14) If you experience constipation or digestion issues, drinking more water is a common remedy to help break up food and stimulate your body’s natural digestive processes. (15)

Hypovolemic Shock

Hypovolemic shock is a condition in which you have low blood volume. As a result, you can experience a drop in blood pressure and the amount of oxygen in your body. (16) This serious condition can be life-threatening, as it can lead to multiple organ failure.

Death

A person can survive only three days without water. When we do not drink enough water, the effects of dehydration can occur very quickly. Without enough water, one can go from simply feeling thirsty and sluggish on day one to experiencing organ failure on day three. (17) Without enough water, your body could shut down very quickly and ultimately lead to death.

Stay Healthy: Drink Water

echo h2 pitcher
Keep your body hydrated and healthy with Echo Antioxidant Water™!

The easiest way to avoid dehydration and its side effects is to drink more water! If you want to take your health to the next level, fill your glass with Echo Antioxidant Water™! By infusing hydrogen gas into your water, Antioxidant Water™ provides you with the benefits of both water and one of nature’s most powerful antioxidants: hydrogen. As a result, you can keep your body hydrated while also experiencing greater immune function, better digestion, reduced signs of aging, improved brain function, and so much more.

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