Let’s be blunt: if you clicked into this article thinking ‘I might not be drinking enough water’… you’re probably not drinking enough water.
We all know about the importance of staying hydrated, with benefits of sipping throughout the day ranging from improving skin texture to, well, avoiding death from dehydration.
But if you need a reminder to get drinking, it might be useful to know the signs that you’re simply not downing enough water – so you can keep an eye out for them and get pouring the moment you spot one.
That’s especially important when the weather’s hot.
The easiest sign to spot that you could probably do with some water is feeling thirsty. Yes, we know that’s obvious, but it’s one of those things people often overlook.
Then you have your signs of mild dehydration, including headaches, feeling like you’re overheating, feeling tired, having a dry mouth, and nausea.
Dr Keith Grimes, a GP at Babylon, tells Metro.co.uk: ‘In hot weather, our bodies lose more water through sweating and breathing, increasing the risk of becoming dehydrated.
Signs you’re not drinking enough water
Signs you’re not drinking enough water:
- You feel thirsty (that’s an easy one)
- You have a headache
- Your urine is dark yellow and has a strong smell
- You feel dizzy or lightheaded
- You feel nauseous
- You have dry mouth
- Your skin feels dry
- You have bad breath (and not just after eating smelly foods)
- You feel tired
- You’re struggling to concentrate
- You’re hardly peeing – going fewer than four times a day and only seeing a small amount come out shows you need to be drinking more
The signs above suggest mild dehydration, which is a very different thing to severe dehydration, which needs medical help.
If you experience any of the below symptoms, call 999 or go to A&E:
- your pulse is weak or rapid
- you have fits or seizures
- you haven’t urinated all day
- you’re dizzy when you stand up and that feeling doesn’t go away
- you’re confused and disorientated
‘Fortunately, humans have adapted brilliantly to this challenge over the millennia, and we have a number of mechanisms to keep our fluid levels balanced.Sensors inside our brains help detect changes in hydration status, triggering thirst and decreased urination.
‘Other symptoms of mild dehydration can include developing a headache, fatigue, or nausea, having dry mouth or lips.
‘There’s no evidence to support the myth that feeling thirsty is a late sign, so listen to your body and top up as needed.’
It’s worth noting that some people don’t have easily spotted signs of dehydration, and if that’s the case for you (ie you don’t feel thirsty), make slow, regular sips throughout the day a priority.
Dr Grimes notes that as people get older, ‘their thirst response to dehydration diminishes’, for example. So with age comes the need to make sure you’re keeping yourself topped up with water throughout the day rather than waiting for thirst to hit.
Children can also be tricky as they might not know the signs of dehydration or be able to verbalise thirst, so parents will need to make sure fluids are always available, too.
Certain medical problems such as diabetes or heart conditions can also demand more specific fluid intake recommendations, so if you have an underlying condition do chat with a medical professional.
If you’re feeling thirsty or generally a bit dry, don’t panic about drinking anything fancy. Plain old tap water will do you good, whatever the weather.
And don’t react to thirst by overloading yourself with pints and pints of water. Go slow and steady.
‘We’ve established that if you feel thirsty you should drink,’ Dr Grimes says.
‘In the UK, tap water is absolutely fine – there’s no need to take any special isotonic drink or preparation.
‘Alcohol and caffeinated drinks can lead to some increased fluid loss (diuresis), but most experts don’t believe this contributes significantly to risk of dehydration. If you are feeling nauseated, avoid fizzy drinks or dairy products – try frequent smalls sips.
‘Ultimately, the healthy human body is well adapted to the challenge of warmer days. Sensible fluid intake, along with staying cool and protecting yourself from the sun, and avoiding exertion at the warmest time of day, is the simplest way to stay well.’
When it comes to the specific amount of water you absolutely must drink, don’t stress yourself out too much about the exact number of glasses you down.
The NHS recommends drinking around 1.2litres (six to eight glasses) on a normal day, and more when it’s hot.
But as Dr Grimes says, your body is pretty good at telling you if you’re not drinking enough – tune into your thirst and drink accordingly.
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