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What happens inside your body when you’re dehydrated
Your mouth is dry, you feel dizzy and you have a headache. You haven't had enough water all day long, or to support your recent activity level. There's little doubt that you're dehydrated, based on the symptoms you can see and feel. What about the symptoms you can't see and feel? What's going on inside your body when you're dehydrated? Understanding dehydration can help you prevent it in yourself and in student athletes.
What is dehydration?
In simplest terms, dehydration occurs when you lose more water than you bring in. Water provides necessary nutrients and minerals to your body that promote healthy function of your organs. Without those minerals, your body function will suffer. Therefore dehydration, when not treated immediately and effectively, can be a serious problem.
What's going on inside your body?
When you first begin to experience dehydration, you'll feel thirsty. Quenching this thirst immediately can often stay any further issues. However, if you ignore this thirst, your body will start to take charge. Here's what may happen:
Your may experience low blood pressure, since a reduction of water in your system can reduce your blood volume. This could lead to fainting or dizziness.
When you have plenty of water in your system, your urine will be clear or have a slight yellowish tint. When you're dehydrated, your body reserves all the urine it has available. Your urine is more concentrated, appearing bright yellow instead of clear.
Your heart may beat more quickly when your body is suffering from dehydration. This occurs because your body is naturally trying to raise its blood pressure, also a result of the dehydration.
Your extremities may receive oxygen at a reduced speed as less water is available in your body. A health care professional may be able to assess that with several tests designed to measure oxygen level in your toes and fingers.
How can you cope with dehydration?
By the time you start to recognize the external symptoms of dehydration, the internal effects may be well underway. Drink sips of water to help cope with mild to moderate dehydration. Don't gulp. Consider water-rich foods to help with minor dehydration, too.
If dehydration is more severe and doesn't respond to an increased intake of water, it may be necessary for you to see a health care provider for a further assessment. Hospitalization and IV fluids is a possible treatment plan for severe dehydration.
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