Orthopedic Specialists

Surprising Side Effects of Dehydration (& FAQs)

June 13, 2023

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Over 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated (National Library of Medicine). When your body doesn’t get the amount of water needed to carry out its normal functions, there can be serious consequences. Since dehydration can happen to anyone at any time, it’s important to know how much water your body needs and how to tell when you’re not getting enough water.

Learn more about dehydration and the surprising side effects that can occur when you don’t drink enough water.

Dehydration FAQs

How much water should I drink a day?

The U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine determined that an adequate daily fluid intake is:

  • About 15.5 cups (3.7 liters) of fluids a day for men
  • About 11.5 cups (2.7 liters) of fluids a day for women

The amount of water truly needed a day can vary widely due to a variety of personal factors such as activity level and chronic health conditions. 

How long can you go without water? 

Generally, the average person can only go around three days without water, though this can also vary due to personal factors. 

What percent of water is the human body?

The amount of water in the body changes slightly with age, sex, and hydration levels, but the rough average percentage of water in a person's body is about 60%.

How much water is too much?

Hyponatremia can occur when you drink too much water for your kidneys to be able to process. This is rarely a problem as this requires the consumption of large amounts of water rapidly and consistently. 

Common Symptoms Of Dehydration

There are a wide variety of signs that you are not getting enough water. Common dehydration symptoms include: 

  • Headaches
  • Muscle Cramps
  • Dry Mouth
  • Infrequent Urination and/or Dark Urine
  • Constipation 

Lesser Known Symptoms Of Dehydration

While you’ve likely had a dehydration headache a time or two, there are some symptoms of dehydration that are not as well known. Other symptoms of dehydration can include:

  • Confusion & Irriatibilty 
    • Severe dehydration can lead to confusion, fatigue, disorientation, and irritability. This is especially true for severe dehydration in older adults.
  • Joint Pain 
    • Dehydration can cause joint pain by preventing your joints from getting the lubrication they need to glide without grinding and discomfort. Dehydration and joint pain are of particular concern for those with arthritis.  
  • Sugar Cravings 
    • Food cravings, especially for sugary foods, are an extremely common sign of dehydration. When your body does not get enough water it can be hard for your organs to release stored glucose, causing sugar cravings. 
  • Premature Aging 
    • Chronic dehydration can accelerate the signs of aging since your skin is not getting the water it needs to stay healthy. 
  • Lowered Immune System
    • Your immune system relies on a well-hydrated body, so when you are not hydrated, your immune system is not able to work as effectively as it should. Not having enough water hinders a wide variety of factors that make up your immune system, from your lymphatic fluid to white blood cells to digestion. 

Staying Hydrated & Healthy

Paying attention to potential signs of dehydration is important to restoring your hydration level. From health education to routine physicals to specialized care, Orthopedic Specialists is here to enhance your overall health. Learn more about our services or schedule an appointment today!

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