A few months ago, when I was misdiagnosed with a UTI, I began drinking a ton of water to flush out the bacteria. I was surprised to find that this new habit seemed to make my mind clearer. Foggyheadedness is one of many health issues caused by dehydration. It may sound simplistic, but sometimes, improving your health really is as simple as drinking more water.
“Dehydration can affect you without you even knowing that you are dehydrated,” chiropractor Dr. Alex Tauberg DC, CSCS, EMR tells Bustle. “That's why you need to be vigilant, especially during the summer months, when it comes to staying hydrated. Sometimes, people forget to hydrate until after they are already dehydrated, and at that point, it is a lot harder to get back to being hydrated if you are participating in a physical activity.”
This doesn't mean you necessarily need eight glasses of water a day; experts instead recommend listening to your body. According to the National Academies of Sciences, "the vast majority of healthy people adequately meet their daily hydration needs by letting thirst be their guide." You can tell if you're dehydrated by looking out for signs like dizziness, dry mouth, and a lack of urination. If you notice them, drink up.
Here are some health issues you may not know dehydration can contribute to.
“When you are dehydrated, your eyes produce less tears so they are no longer properly lubricated, which can lead to dry eye,” Dr. Ryan Parker, O.D., director of professional services at Essilor, tells Bustle. Dry eye occurs when you don’t produce enough tears to see properly or wash things out of your eye, which can lead to eye irritation and blurred vision.
Eye strain — whose symptoms include tired eyes, blurred vision, headaches, and double vision — can also occur when your eyes are insufficiently lubricated. “Drinking plenty of water will help flush out salt in the body and properly hydrate your eyes to help reduce eye strain,” Parker says.
Dehydration leaves your muscles more prone to cramps, Caitlin Hoff, Health & Safety Investigator at ConsumerSafety.org, tells Bustle. This is why it’s important to stay hydrated during a workout or even when you’re getting a massage.
4The Cold And Flu
Dehydration weakens your immune system, Caleb Backe, health and wellness expert for Maple Holistics, tells Bustle. This leaves you susceptible to common illnesses like the cold and flu. “Stay hydrated in order to build up and maintain strong immunity and antibodies to prevent illnesses,” Backe says.
When you’re dehydrated, your whole body dries out, including your skin, your lips, and your hair, says Backe. “There's a reason that chapped lips, dull hair and broken skin result in the cold, dry winter — it's because your body needs hydration in order to nourish those bodily areas.”
If your mind feels slower than usual or just not totally there, ask yourself how much water you drank that day. “Just a two percent loss in body weight from water loss can affect cognitive and physical performance,” says Tauberg. “You may start to feel cloudy headed or like you are not able to perform as well as you would like. You might not know the cause at first, but if you haven't been hydrating, then that is a likely culprit.“
Kidney stones form when your urine leaves salts and minerals behind, which is more likely when it’s highly concentrated. “If you are not passing enough urine you might not be excreting the waste products that you otherwise would be,” says Tauberg. “This can have a negative effect on the kidneys. The best solution is to stay hydrated.”
Moral of the story? Dehydration can be hard on pretty much every part of your body and brain. Drink whenever you're thirsty, and if you have any of these issues, ask yourself if a lack of water might be the culprit.