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What Is Chronic Dehydration? Cause, Preventive Measures And More



Hydration is a simple but crucial concept for the human body. The importance of hydrating oneself has time and again been emphasised as a vital part of a healthy lifestyle. Some experts recommend drinking 16 cups (3.5 liters) of water for women, and 11 (2.5 liters) for men. However, probably because it is such a basic concept, we often forget to pick up that glass of water and have it frequently. This often leads to dehydration. When dehydration occurs for a prolonged period of time and an individual is in-taking less hydrating fluids as compared to the amount of water he/she is losing in a day, it leads to chronic dehydration.

Impact Of Chronic Dehydration On Human Body:

Chronic dehydration is not just excessive loss of water from the body for a long period of time, but also loss of electrolytes and vital minerals. A proper balance of water, electrolytes and minerals helps our body function properly and when the consumption of it is in the deficit, it can result in common but persistent problems such as muscle cramp, fatigue, dizziness, brain fog, et al. This manifests itself in the form overexertion, diarrhea, puking, flu or even loss of consciousness. It can also adversely affect various functions like controlling body temperature, waste removal through kidneys, maintaining a healthy metabolism and regulating blood pressure.

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Signs Of Chronic Dehydration:

People who are most susceptible to chronic dehydration are – the ones battling a disease such as diabetes, the active sportsmen, and the ones who are too young or old to consume fluids. Due to the excessive loss of fluid or lack of fluids, the body loses out on not only hydration, but also the required intake of electrolytes, vitamins and minerals. In order to successfully treat chronic dehydration, it is important to first recognise the signals that our body commonly gives us when it is dehydrated.

1. Dry mouth and/or bad breath:

Our salivary glands produce several antibacterial agents. However, when we are dehydrated, it stops producing saliva causing bacterial overgrowth and bad breath. The lack of saliva also results in dryness in the mouth and cracked lips.

2. Dry or flushed skin:

Dehydration results in loss of elasticity and moisture which can cause dryness or redness in the skin.

3. Hunger pangs:

Lack of hydration is often mistaken by certain organs such as liver as lack of energy and it sends us signals that we often mistake for hunger pangs. So, the next time you crave for chips or chocolate, opt for a hydrating drink filled with electrolytes instead.

4. Migraines or shooting headaches:

When we miss hydrating ourselves through the day, our brain shrinks away from the skull causing dehydration headaches or even migraine in the case of chronic dehydration.

5. Urine check:

Deep yellow coloured urine is a warning sign that your body is not receiving an adequate amount of hydration.

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Treating Chronic Dehydration

The most simple yet effective way to treat or even better, avoid chronic dehydration is to reverse the process and replenish the loss that the body has partaken, but quickly. This means that just drinking water will not be enough. You need to incorporate fluids in your diet that are packed with minerals, vitamins and electrolytes like potassium, magnesium, calcium, sodium and chloride. Keeping refillable bottles to regularly sip on electrolyte rich drinks, which are preferably low on sugar, will help you keep dehydration at bay. In addition to this, swap those packets of chips and soft drinks for freshly cut fruits, smoothies, nuts and dry fruits, sprouts and other healthier options, which will recharge your body with fibre and nutrients.

The importance of hydration can never be overstated. It is the single most vital thing that keeps our life and body going efficiently, and we can avoid innumerable conditions just by ensuring we keep ourselves hydrated.

As Covid-19 ravages the world and we undertake a complete re-alignment of the systems that we have existed under so far, all of us have been starkly reminded of the adage ‘Health is Wealth’. It is imperative, today than ever before that we allow our bodies the best fighting chance against the pandemic by shining the spotlight on our immunity. Incorporating healthy habits and following practices is a matter of discipline and that has gained utmost relevance. So grab that bottle of water for a healthy, goodness-filled life.

About the author: Dr. Vikram Singh Chauhan, MD(Med), DM(Endo), is a consulting endocrinologist at Dr Chauhan’s Clinic and Jabalpur Hospital and Research Center, Jabalpur

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(This content including advice provides generic information only. It is in no way a substitute for qualified medical opinion. Always consult a specialist or your own doctor for more information. NDTV does not claim responsibility for this information.)

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