What Happens to Your Body When You’re Dehydrated?

Dehydration occurs when the body does not have enough water to carry out its normal functions.

It can happen when a person loses too much fluid through vomiting, fever, diarrhea, sweating, or severe urination. (1)

Dehydration can also occur when a person does not drink enough fluids.

It is important to drink plenty of fluids and replace fluids lost through sweating and urination to prevent dehydration.

In severe cases, hospitalization may be necessary to receive fluids intravenously. (2)

What Happens to Your Body When You’re Dehydrated?

People who are at risk for dehydration include:

  • Infants
  • Young children
  • Older adults
  • Drinking too much alcohol
  • People with chronic illnesses like diabetes
  • People who exercise for long periods of time
  • People who are active in hot weather
  • Medicines, such as diuretics

The question is:

What exactly happens to your body when you’re dehydrated?

The answer is:

Symptoms of dehydration include thirst, dry mouth, dark urine, fatigue, peeing less, headaches, and dizziness. (3)

In general, dehydration can have a number of consequences on the body.

For one, it can lead to electrolyte imbalances.

Electrolytes are minerals that help to regulate fluid levels in the body. (4)

When the body is dehydrated, electrolyte levels can drop, leading to muscle cramps, weakness, and irregular heartbeat. 

Dehydration can also cause problems with blood flow.

When the body is dehydrated, blood volume decreases and becomes thicker.

This can make it harder for the heart to pump blood and can lead to high blood pressure. (5)

Dehydration can also cause blood vessels to constrict, which can lead to dizziness and lightheadedness. 

Dehydration can also lead to dry skin.

People who are dehydrated may notice that their skin is dry, flaky, or even cracked.

This is because the body needs water to keep the skin moisturized. 

Constipation is another common side effect of dehydration.

The reason is that the body needs water to help move food through the digestive system.

Without enough water, the digestive system cannot function properly, and stool can become hard and difficult to pass.

Dehydration can cause kidney stones and urinary tract infections.

Kidney stones occur when there is not enough fluid in the body to dilute minerals in the urine.

This can lead to the formation of hard crystals that can be very painful.

Urinary tract infections occur when bacteria enter the urinary system and multiply.

Dehydration can increase the risk of these infections because it can concentrate urine and allow bacteria to grow more easily. (6)

Dehydration can lead to heat illness.

When the body is dehydrated, it is not able to sweat as effectively.

This can cause the body to overheat, leading to heat cramps, heat exhaustion, or even heat stroke. (7)

In severe cases, dehydration can lead to kidney failure, seizures, and even death.

Treatment for dehydration

Treatment for dehydration depends on the severity of the condition.

For mild dehydration, the goal is to replace lost fluids by drinking clear fluids like water or sports drinks.

For moderate to severe dehydration, fluids will need to be replaced intravenously. (8)

Intravenous fluids are given through a needle that is inserted into a vein in the arm.

In most cases, treatment for dehydration is successful, and no lasting effects occur.

However, dehydration can lead to serious health problems like kidney failure or seizures if not appropriately treated.

Learn more: 6 Natural Remedies For Dehydration

How can dehydration be prevented?

Fortunately, dehydration is preventable.

The best way to prevent dehydration is to drink plenty of fluids, especially water.

It is also important to avoid alcoholic beverages and sugary drinks, as these can actually cause dehydration.

If you are engaging in activities that will make you sweat, such as exercising or working in the heat, be sure to drink extra fluids.

And if you are ill, be sure to drink even more fluids than usual.

You can prevent dehydration and keep your body healthy by taking simple steps to stay hydrated.

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