Acute dehydration can land you in the emergency room, but long-term and less severe dehydration still takes its toll on your immune system, organ functions, and overall health. Yet many people don't realize they're technically in dehydration mode because they don't feel thirsty, feel dizzy, or have a headache. Watch out for these less common signs of dehydration that often accompany chronic cases.
Drinking a lot of water won't cause you to lose weight, but not drinking enough will make you gain some. This is due to the body's reflex to conserve what's available by retaining as much water as possible instead of letting you eliminate it normally. Since this is just water weight, you'll likely shed a pound or two after getting back on a better hydration schedule. Your water-starved cells will also put out a call for more energy, resulting in your overeating when you really need to drink water instead.
Stop popping mints and start drinking more liquids. When your saliva production drops due to dehydration, the bacteria in your mouth don't get washed away. This results in stinky breath that keeps returning after you brush and gargle. If the bacteria levels remain high for months or even years, you'll also be at a higher risk for cavities and gum disease.
When you keep experiencing small spikes in your body temperature without any other signs of a virus or bacterial infection, grab some water as soon as possible. This is one of the most serious signs of dehydration, whether it's acute or chronic. Even if your temperature is low enough that you wouldn't normally consider seeking medical care, remember the sweating cycle. A high body temperature makes you sweat, which uses up even more of your body's precious water supply.
Kidney and Bladder Infections
Kidney infections may not always hurt quite as much as kidney stones, but they're often more dangerous. Chronic dehydration impairs the ability of your kidneys to filter the water that turns into your urine, so it's not surprising that bacteria can grow in the bladder and spread up to the kidneys when you're not drinking enough.
Finally, watch what you're craving to get a tip-off of when to drink more water. An intense desire for sugary foods can arise because of your liver struggling to do its job without enough moisture. Sugar breaks down into a fuel the liver and other organs can use to function despite your dehydrated state, so grab a bottle of water and finish it off before indulging in your desire for a doughnut or candy bar.