7 Reasons You're Still Dehydrated After Drinking Lots Of Water

LightField Studios/Shutterstock

You often hear the old "eight glasses of water a day" adage as a way to stay hydrated. But unfortunately, hydration is not as simple as drinking water. It's possible to still be dehydrated after drinking a lot of water. This may be discouraging for avid water drinkers, but if you can pinpoint the source of the problem, you can rectify it and become hydrated again.

"Hydration is essential to overall health," board-certified rehabilitation specialist Scott Michael Schreiber tells Bustle. "Many Americans are chronically dehydrated, which means they have been drinking less than optimal for a long period of time. When this occurs, you need to slowly rehydrate, as your body has been in survival mode, adjusted to not consuming enough water. In addition, as you drink more, you will go to the bathroom more. This will pass with time as your body becomes more hydrated."

The biggest signs that you're dehydrated include inability to sweat, dry skin, bad breath, dark pee, and urination less than six times a day. It might be confusing if you're experiencing these signs even after drinking lots of water, but drinking water isn't all that it takes to stay hydrated. Here are some reasons you might be dehydrated despite seemingly adequate water intake, according to experts.

1. You're Missing Electrolytes

Rocketclips, Inc/Shutterstock

Electrolytes like sodium, chloride, magnesium, and potassium are necessary to deliver fluids to your cells. "Your kidneys rely on electrolytes to help your body hold on to water, so if you do not have enough electrolyte intake, the water you drink passes right through you, rather then staying in your body to help replenish and nourish your cells," Arielle Levitan, M.D., co-founder of Vous Vitamin LLC, tells Bustle. Fortunately, there are lots of electrolyte supplements available, which usually come as powder you can mix into your water. Certain drinks like coconut water are also good sources of electrolytes.

2. You're Not Drinking Often Enough


If you drink a ton of water in one sitting, that won't hydrate you as well as drinking often throughout the day. "When you are thirsty, you are already heading down the road to dehydration," says Schreiber. "You need to be drinking water all day long, as opposed to only when you are thirsty. Your body will absorb more water over the course of the day, rather than at one shot!"

3. You Have Diabetes

Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock

"Excessive thirst accompanied by dehydration can be a symptom of undiagnosed diabetes," registered dietician Summer Yule tells Bustle. Because their bodies are trying to get rid of sugar, people with diabetes pee frequently, which can dehydrate them. If you find yourself always thirsty and peeing a lot, it may be worth it to get tested for diabetes.

4. You're Drinking Dehydrating Fluids


Even if you're drinking lots of water, drinking the wrong drinks can cancel it out. For example, caffeinated drinks like coffee and soda can dehydrate you, chiropractor David J. Barczyk tells Bustle. Barczyk recommends drinking no more than two caffeinated beverages a day.

5. You're Consuming Too Much Salt


Sodium can dehydrate you, so make sure you're not consuming too much of it, says Barczyk. It's not usually regular table salt that you have to worry about, but some prepackaged foods contain lots of sodium.

6. You've Been Sick


Various illnesses can cause dehydration in a number of ways. For example, you may lose fluids if you have diarrhea, Wayne Anthony, water specialist at WaterFilterData.org, tells Bustle. "Even minor changes in body temperature, for example, can cause water loss."

7. You're Not Actually Drinking Enough Water


Even if you're drinking eight glasses a day or more, that may still not be enough for you, depending on your size and level of physical activity, says Anthony. "While people often think there's a one-size-fits-all recommendation for water consumption, your individual water needs vary based on your size, weight, and activity levels," he says. "In general, I recommend a half ounce of water daily per pound of weight for someone of average activity."

If you're experiencing signs of chronic dehydration despite drinking lots of water, talk to your doctor about what might be going on and how to stay hydrated.