Heat: These six signs tell you that you are drinking too little

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Especially in the current heat wave, but also under normal conditions, it is important to drink enough water. The German Society for Nutrition recommends consuming at least 1.5 liters per day.

About half of our body is made up of water. Blood alone is largely made up of liquid. Thus, water is involved in numerous processes in the body. In order for our cells and organs to work, we need to get fluid through drinking and eating.

A lack of fluids, also known as dehydration, can lead to typical symptoms such as headaches and dizziness, dry lips, tachycardia and joint problems.

The heat wave in Germany continues. Temperatures reached peaks of up to 40 degrees in many places. The health authority has already made recommendations on how best to protect yourself from heat stress. You should avoid physically strenuous activities and direct sunlight, keep your home cool and, very importantly, drink enough.

Because not only sunburn or sunstroke threaten if we expose ourselves to the heat for too long. Dehydration can also easily occur. In the worst case, the body is so dehydrated that serious symptoms appear. Experts then speak of dehydration. In this article you will find out why water is so important for our health and what characteristics you can use to tell that you are not drinking enough.

Water is our body’s fuel

Our body would not function without water, numerous processes depend on a sufficient amount of liquid. This is not surprising, since around 50 to 65 percent of an adult human consists of water. In addition to proteins, salts and cells, blood is composed to a large extent of water. Here it dissolves the solid components of food, such as sugar, salt, vitamins and minerals, and transports the important nutrients to the cells. In addition, water is contained in cells and tissues and thus forms our body.

But most importantly, the fluid is for our kidneys and brain. Our kidneys work like a sewage treatment plant: Substances that the body no longer needs or are even harmful to it are filtered out and passed through the urine. The “clean” blood flows back through the bloodstream. In order for the metabolic processes to run smoothly, we have to supply our body with enough water. This is achieved with drinking water and water-rich foods (e.g. cucumber, melon, tomatoes, lettuce).

In addition, the body loses up to two liters of water per day through sweating and digestion. It is therefore all the more important to ensure that you drink enough during physical activity, sport or heat. The German Society for Nutrition recommends drinking at least 1.5 liters of water or unsweetened tea. The Austrian health portal gives a guide value – depending on age – 30 to 40 ml per kilogram of body weight.

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Dehydration: Six symptoms of dehydration

Thirst is usually the first sign that we should drink something. But you shouldn’t let it get that far – because with the symptom, the body is already reacting to a lack of liquid. It is therefore better to drink small amounts of water throughout the day.
If you see these six other signs of dehydration, you should pay attention – and grab the water bottle straight away:

1. Dry lips

Dry and chapped lips can not only indicate a nutrient deficiency, a disturbed fluid balance can also be the cause. Direct sunlight and heat also dry out the thin skin of the lips. Since it consists of only three to four layers of cells, it is particularly sensitive to environmental factors.

If you also don’t drink enough water, the body can no longer maintain its everyday metabolic processes or can only carry them out more slowly. One consequence is that the mouth and throat area can no longer be kept moist. This becomes apparent with dry and chapped lips. Other parts of the body, such as arms, legs or the back, can also become rough – because if we sweat in summer, the body loses fluid and the sebaceous glands produce too little fat and moisture-binding substances to keep the skin supple.

If the skin is dry for a long period of time and starts to itch, there is usually another reason behind it – such as a lack of nutrients, illness, stress, mental stress or the use of medication. Then a dermatologist should address the problem.

3. Headaches and concentration problems

Our brain is made up of 80 percent water. If you don’t drink enough, it’s harder for you to concentrate, you might become forgetful or complain of a headache. In short: you are less efficient.

This can be explained as follows: If there is less water in the bloodstream, the blood becomes “thicker” and therefore flows more slowly. The result is that less oxygen can be transported to the brain and fewer nutrients to the cells. However, the brain is dependent on it in order to generate energy and perform. Instead of taking a pill directly for a headache, drinking water can often help.

4. Dark urine

If there is not enough liquid in the body, this can also be noticeable in the urine. This is then highly concentrated and has a darker color than usual. If you have drunk enough water, the urine will be clear to light yellow.

But dehydration is not always behind it, a urinary tract infection or certain medications can also darken the urine. However, caution should be exercised if the urine is orange to brown in color over a long period of time. It could be liver cirrhosis, gallstones, or hepatitis. You should then have the cause clarified by a doctor.

5. Joint pain

All joints have a cartilage layer, which consists mostly of water and works like a buffer. It forms a smooth surface so that the bones rub against each other as little as possible when the joint is movable. If there is no water, the layer is weakened and friction damage can occur. This can also cause limb and joint pain. However, inflammation (e.g. arthritis) can also be the cause of persistent joint problems.

6. Palpitations

At a higher stage of dehydration, the blood is so viscous that blood pressure drops sharply. The heart tries to pump the remaining blood through the body faster – the heartbeat increases. This can even lead to heart palpitations.

At the same time, too little blood reaches the brain and other parts of the body. The result: The limbs tingle and become pale and cold, disorientation and even unconsciousness are possible. Doctors then also speak of a hypovolemic shock. So that it doesn’t come to that, you should take your body’s warning signals seriously and fill up your fluid balance quickly – especially when it’s hot.

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