Even Mild Dehydration Can be Bad for Your Health

By Sharon Moore on February 27, 2012

Are you drinking sufficient amount of water every day? If not, you might be putting your health at risk. According to a new study, even mild dehydration can negatively affect a person’s physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing.

Effects of Dehydration to Your Body

The researchers from the University of Connecticut’s Human Performance Laboratory analysed the effects of dehydration in the body. On separate trials, they observed two groups of young, healthy, and active individuals. The first group consisted of 25 women and the second group consisted of 26 male participants. During the experiment, the participants were asked to walk on a treadmill to induce dehydration after having properly hydrated the night before. After a heavy workout, the researchers measured the strength of the participants in terms of their mental performance, concentration, vigilance, memory, and response. Women who joined the trial reported having experienced fatigue, headache, and problems in concentrating. On the other hand, the male participants reported cases of anxiety, increased stress and tension levels, memory problems, and the like.

We All Need Proper Hydration Regardless of our Physical Activities

Everybody knows the importance of proper rehydration. Even school children are being taught to drink at least eight glasses of water each day. But as to the effects of dehydration, only a few people realise that this seemingly ‘ordinary’ condition can actually trigger the onset of some serious illnesses. The lead researcher, Dr Lawrence E. Armstrong, professor of Physiology at the University of Connecticut has been studying the concept of hydration for over 20 years. According to him, we will not usually feel the thirst until our body has reduced its fluid level by one or two percent. Dr Armstrong added that staying hydrated is equally important to all people regardless of their physical activities. That means an office employee who spends eight hours in his desk will experience the same level of dehydration with that of an athlete who has just run a couple of miles during a marathon competition.

Harris Lieberman, co-author of the study and a research psychologist working for the U.S. Army Research Institute in Natick pointed out that mild dehydration that many people usually experience can significantly affect one’s mood. He also added that women appeared to be more susceptible to the adverse effects of dehydration than men.

How is Dehydration Treated?

2/3 of our body is made up of water. And when the water dips down below this level, dehydration occurs. In other words, we get dehydrated when we lose more water than what we consume. One of the most common causes of dehydration is gastrointestinal illness wherein a person loses body fluids through diarrhoea and vomiting. The usual treatment for the said condition is fluid replacement. Typically, oral rehydration will resolve the problem but in severe cases, intravenous fluid or IV might be required. Home treatments are also possible. If you can spot the signs of dehydration early, this condition can easily be addressed. For individuals who are suffering from dehydration because of vomiting and diarrhoea, doctors recommend taking medications such as Loperamide to control water loss. Consuming clear fluids regularly is also necessary. Clear fluids include water, clear broths, popsicles, and jell-o. There are also beverages that can aid in dehydration. These include health drinks that contain electrolytes.

Don’t forget to drink plenty of water and eat fruits and vegetables (as they contain fluids too). Keeping your body properly hydrated can keep you feeling energetic, lively, and alert each day.

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