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Debilitating effects of dehydration
May 8, 2016, 10:47 am

It does not take much for your body to become dehydrated. Lose just 1.5 percent of the water in your body, and you have reached the tipping point of mild dehydration, which can do more to your body than just make you feel thirsty.

Dehydration can bring on health effects ranging from the mild to severe; here are some of the issues brought on by dehydration.

Cravings for sugar:  Dehydration can mask itself as hunger, particularly sugar cravings. This may happen particularly if you have been exercising. When you exercise in a dehydrated state, you use glycogen (stored carbohydrate) at a faster rate, thus diminishing your stores more quickly. So once you finish exercising, you will likely crave carbs to help you replenish those glycogen levels and get you ready for your next exercise bout.

Inability to drive safely:  New research shows that the number of driving errors doubled during a two-hour drive when drivers were dehydrated versus hydrated—an effect similar to driving while drunk. Since often people purposely avoid drinking prior to a long road trip to prevent bathroom stops, dehydration could increase the risk of traffic accidents.

Tiredness: A mid-afternoon slump may have more to do with hydration than you think. When you are dehydrated your blood pressure drops, heart rate increases, blood flow to the brain slows – all of which can make you tired. A lack of water to muscles also makes physical tasks feel more difficult and tiring.

Chills:It may seem counterintuitive, but dehydration can bring on chills. This occurs because your body starts to limit blood flow to the skin. In addition, water holds heat, so if you become hydrated it can be more difficult to regulate your body temperature, which can make you become chilled faster, even when you are not in a cold environment.

Muscle cramps:A lack of water causes less blood circulation, which can make muscles cramp up. The body will protect its vital organs, so it shifts fluid away from muscles and anything that is not vital. Muscle cramps can be extremely painful, making muscles feel harder than normal to the touch. Changes in sodium and potassium through sweat loss can also contribute to cramping.

Dizziness: Along with muscles, your brain also gets less blood circulation when you are low on water, which can make you dizzy. Additionally, mild dehydration may affect your ability to take on mental tasks and cause you to feel foggy headed.

Headaches:Dehydration can cause headaches in a couple of different ways. Lack of water affects your body’s serotonin levels, which can give you headaches. Also, small blood vessels in the brain respond quickly to low hydration, leading to dull aches and even full-blown migraines. Downing a glass or two of water the next time you have a headache may make your migraine disappear. Also, try eating fruits as they contain a high percentage of water.

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