Did you know that approximately 60% of the human body is made up of water?  Every cell in your body needs water to function properly, which is why it’s so important to stay hydrated. Dehydration occurs when the body loses more water than it takes in. Fluid is most often lost through sweat and urine, but other factors – like illness, certain medications, and climate – can also lead to dehydration.
The symptoms of mild dehydration are relatively easy to recognize and can be easily treated by drinking water, a sports drink, juice, or whatever beverage you have on hand. The most common symptoms of mild dehydration are:
- Dry mouth
- Not urinating much
- Darker yellow urine
- Dry, cool skin
- Muscle cramps
If left untreated, a mild case of dehydration can cause some serious problems.
- Low blood pressure: Blood pressure drops when you become dehydrated. In extreme cases, blood pressure and blood volume may drop so low that the body goes into hypovolemic shock, a life-threatening condition where the heart can’t pump enough blood to the body and organs begin to shut down. 
- Rapid heart rate: As blood pressure decreases, heart rate increases, which can cause lightheadedness and a feeling of pounding or fluttering in the chest.
- Kidney Damage: When you’re dehydrated, your body sends a signal to your kidneys to tell them to retain water, which means you urinate less – concentrated urine can increase your risk of developing painful kidney stones.
- Heat Stroke: If you’ve been in the sun for too long and haven’t been hydrating, your body may not be able to produce sweat, so it can’t cool itself off. Heat stroke often causes confusion, rapid heartbeat, and loss of consciousness – it’s a life-threatening condition and requires immediate medical attention.
The best way to prevent dehydration is to drink plenty of water throughout the day. The recommended daily water intake varies from person-to-person, but the general rule, according to health authorities, is to drink at least 8 glasses of water a day (a glass meaning 8 fluid ounces). Listen to your body and be sure to drink extra when you’re sick, have been physically exerting yourself, or are outside in the heat.
This blog was originally published by AdvantageCare Physicians.