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Dehydration: Side Effects and Ways to Fight It

Imagine yourself in this situation: You’re at a festival, enjoying music and friends, and you realize that you’re thirsty.  You didn’t bring a water bottle with you and the water line is incredibly long, so you take a swig of your friend’s beer and keep on dancing.  No big deal, right?  Wrong.

You are already headed down the path of dehydration, and the farther down the path you get, the harder it is to get rehydrated.  Let’s talk about what dehydration is, the side effects, and things you can do to prevent it!

What is Dehydration?

Did you know that your body is made of 60-70% water?  Water is incredibly necessary for your body to function. Your body uses water to perform all sorts of different things, including: regulating your body temperature, flushing out waste, carrying nutrients and oxygen to different body cells and so much more.  Dehydration can creep up on you quickly, and can happen before you even can feel the side effects.  It occurs when your body loses more water and electrolytes than it is taking in, and therefore does not have enough of those things to function properly. 

When you’re at a festival, particularly in the summertime, you may be out in the sun and surrounded by people — and it can get pretty hot.  When you’re in those kinds of circumstances, you will sweat more than normal, causing your body to lose water and important electrolytes.  If you don’t replace that water at the same rate that you are losing it, you will become dehydrated.

It’s important to be vigilant about your hydration status.  Here are some common signs and symptoms of dehydration to look out for:

  • Dry mouth
  • Dry, cracked lips
  • Extreme thirst
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Dizziness
  • Feeling tired
  • Less urine than normal
  • Darker urine than normal

Why Is Dehydration Such a Big Deal?

You might think that being dehydrated once or twice isn’t a huge deal, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth.  Dehydration can cause permanent damage to your brain and kidneys, among other things.  Water and electrolytes play an important role in regulating your body’s functions that keep it running like it should on a day-to-day basis.  Vital organs in your body depend on a good balance of water and electrolytes to do their jobs and to do them well.  Let’s look at the side effects of dehydration on different body systems:

Heart:  Dehydration causes a big strain on your heart.  When you don’t take in enough water, your body has less blood to circulate.  This makes your heart have to pump harder and faster to circulate the amount of blood needed for your body to work properly, causing an increased heart rate and often times will cause palpitations as well.

Kidneys: Your kidneys are responsible for filtering waste from your blood by way of urine, and water helps to facilitate that.  The more water you drink, the more it is cycled through your kidneys to filter waste out of your blood.  When you are dehydrated, waste and acids can build up in your body, and your kidneys can become clogged with muscle cells (called myoglobin).  Dehydration can also cause urinary tract infections and kidney stones, and no one wants those while you’re trying to party at a festival.

Brain: When you become dehydrated, it gets harder to focus your attention on things and you may start to feel tired.  When you lose sodium and potassium (important electrolytes), research has shown that your brain’s cognitive function may become impaired.  Dehydration can actually cause your brain to shrink, and that size difference can leave you more susceptible to brain injury and concussions.  Long term, dehydration can cause chronic headaches, dry eyes, and dizziness.

I Don’t Want to Be Dehydrated! What Do I Do?

Don’t worry, there are some easy ways to help you stay hydrated, whether at a festival, at home, or in the office. 

  • Buy a cool water bottle, and use it. There are lots of different kinds of water bottles out there, so pick one that makes you happy when you see it.  Whether it’s brightly colored, has your favorite saying on it, or keeps water cold for up to 24 hours, find one that inspires you to drink water throughout the day.
  • Experiment with water types. If plain old water isn’t your thing, you have other options.  Sparkling waters like LaCroix or Bubly are just as effective at keeping you hydrated as plain water.  They are, in fact, plain water with CO2 added for bubbles!  Just be sure you are choosing sparkling water beverages that are not sweetened, so that you’re not consuming high amounts of sugar daily.  If sparkling water isn’t your jam, try infused water.  Buy a water bottle with an infusion basket and load it up with your favorite flavor combinations!  Fan favorites include cucumber mint, strawberry basil, raspberry lemon, and orange.  This way, you’re getting all the flavors from your favorite fruits without a ton of extra added calories, and you’re staying on top of your hydration.
  • Eat fruits and veggies. Did you know that many fruits and vegetables contain high concentrations of water?  By adding these to your water intake, you are keeping your hydration status at the max.  Try eating things like watermelon, blueberries, pineapple, celery, lettuce, and green peppers.  Keep in mind that cooked vegetables can lose much of their water content, so eat them raw if at all possible.
  • Consider water supplements. If you just need a little boost in your water during the day to make it tolerable, try a hydration powder like HydroRX.  HydroRX is an amazing hydration powder that has 19 essential vitamins, Himalayan sea salt for that extra boost of sodium that your body needs, a hint of energy, and ZERO calories.  Better yet, it’s immune-boosting, vegan-friendly, and has no artificial sweeteners or coloring, so you can enjoy it guilt-free all while maintaining good hydration during the day.

Hopefully, this has given you some good tips for keeping yourself hydrated and healthy throughout your day, whether it’s at work or at a festival, or just hanging out at home – now, go forth and hydrate!

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