We’ve all been told about the importance of drinking water. Staying hydrated is crucial for your mental and physical health. But are you drinking enough of it? Does the “eight glass a day” rule still apply? And can dehydration cause pain? Let’s take a closer look at how much water you should drink and the link between dehydration and pain.
Are You Drinking Enough Water?
Our bodies are 50-70% water, so it’s not an exaggeration when we say that water is crucial to your physical health. Without water, you won’t survive more than a few days.
Water helps with:
- Temperature regulation
- Protecting sensitive tissue
- Getting rid of waste through sweating, urination, and bowel movements
- Lubricating your joints
Lack of water leads to dehydration, which can cause a wide range of health issues.
Signs of Dehydration
Throughout the day, your body is constantly losing water. You lose water from your tears, your sweat, using the bathroom, and even each time you take a breath. If you’re not replenishing these fluids, you’ll quickly become dehydrated.
Common signs of dehydration include:
- Feeling thirsty
- Dry mouth and lips
- Dark yellow urine
- Few trips to the bathroom
Severe dehydration can cause:
- Very dry skin
- Rapid breathing and heartbeat
- Sunken eyes
- Severe fatigue
Severe hydration is a medical emergency, so it’s essential to seek medical attention immediately. IV fluid hydration can help you get back to normal.
It can take up to 36 hours for the body to recover from dehydration, so it’s important to prevent it whenever possible.
How Much Water Should You Drink?
Most people will experience mild dehydration at least once in their lives. If you recall ever experiencing any of the symptoms above, think about the situation you were in. Were you outside on a hot day? Was it after an intense workout?
There’s a good chance that you underestimated how much water you really needed.
So, how much water should the average person drink? This is an important question with a complicated answer.
As a general rule of thumb, you want to aim for:
- 11.5 cups, or 2.7 liters, of fluids per day for women
- 15.5 cups, or 3.7 liters, of fluids per day for men
Keep in mind that these figures are for fluids, so this includes liquids from other drinks and foods that you eat.
How Do You Know if You’re Drinking Enough Water?
Every person is different, and it’s important to remember that the figures above are just general rules of thumb. Some people may need more or less water, depending on their size, age, and how much water they lose throughout the day.
So, what are some signs that your body is getting enough water?
- Your urine is light yellow or clear
- You don’t feel thirsty
If you’re properly hydrated, you may also feel more energetic, and your overall feeling of well-being may be improved.
Preventing dehydration is the key to avoiding the symptoms above. Here are some simple ways to prevent dehydration:
- Drink a glass of water before, after, and in between meals and snacks.
- Fill a half-gallon water jug and finish it before the day is over.
- Drink a glass of water each time you feel even the slightest bit thirsty.
Drinking water consistently throughout the day will help replenish lost fluids and keep your body running optimally.
The Link Between Dehydration and Pain
Pain may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think about dehydration, but it can be a side effect.
Water plays an important role in joint lubrication. If you’re dehydrated, you may be at a greater risk of joint pain because your joints aren’t sufficiently lubricated.
Joint pain isn’t the only kind of pain you may experience if you’re dehydrated.
- In one study, participants underwent voluntary dehydration to see how it would affect pain perception. Researchers found that dehydration increased pain sensitivity.
- Another study found that dehydration increased brain activity in areas of the brain associated with pain. However, researchers also found that oral rehydration solution helped decrease brain activity in this area.
So, dehydration can make you more sensitive to pain in general. Researchers still don’t know why this happens, but it’s believed that it may be because the brain is not receiving enough fluids.
Of course, dehydration can also lead to another kind of pain that’s all too familiar to many of us: headaches.
An imbalance of fluid and electrolytes can lead to headaches. Why? Because dehydration can cause your brain to temporarily contract and pull away from the skull, resulting in pain.
Staying hydrated is vital for your overall health and wellbeing. But if you suffer from chronic pain and headaches, it’s even more important to ensure that you’re drinking enough water. Staying properly hydrated may help reduce your pain sensitivity or even alleviate some of your headaches.
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