Ref: CHB/News Bulletin /001/2014                                                              Date: 24th January 2014

Ref: CHB/News Bulletin /001/2014

Dehydration - You are thirstier then you think!

dehy1You may take water for granted, but your body doesn't. Two-thirds of a healthy human body is actually made up of water. It's necessary to help our blood carry nutrients and waste (toxins) around the body and to help the chemical reactions that occur in our cells. Every cell, tissue and organ needs water to function properly.


Indeed, water is as important as oxygen for sustaining life. You could survive up to six weeks without food, but not more than a few days, maybe a week tops, without water. Even when you are inactive, your body loses more than 800mls of water every day — through urine, perspiration, and sweat. And most days you lose up to 2 liters. You also lose water when you exhale — up to one or two glasses a day in the form of vapor. With all that water going out, you need to replace what's lost. For most people, that's done without a second thought: You get thirsty; you drink; Simple.

Effects of dehydration

  • Losing up to five percent of body fluids causes thirst, weakness, nausea, and irritability. Pulse increases, and skin may become flushed. Judgment may be seriously impaired even if the body loses only two percent of its fluids.
  • Losing up to ten percent causes headaches, dizziness, and tingling in limbs. Sufferers may lose the ability to walk and speak clearly. Skin may turn blue, blurry vision.
  • Loss of 15 percent severely impairs vision and hearing, swells the tongue, and makes urination painful. Sufferers may be unable to swallow, or may exhibit signs of delirium.
  • Loss of more than 15 percent usually causes death.

dehy2Are you at danger? Not immediately, with help from your kidneys, your body holds onto water when your system is a bit low and gets rid of it when there's excess. When you're at risk of dehydration, it becomes a potentially life-threatening condition if not treated promptly.

How do you know you are dehydrated?

If you can answer 'no' to all these questions, then you're probably getting enough water.


  • Ask yourself a set of questions and listen to your body
  • Are you excessively thirsty?
  • Are you urinating less frequently than normal and is it dark in colour?
  • Are you feeling unwell, tired and fatigued?
  • Do you feel irritable?
  • Are you dizzy when you stand up?
  • Is your mouth dry?
  • Do you have a headache?


dehy3There are people who are more predisposed to dehydration then others. Those who have an active lifestyle as well as those living in a hot and humid climate need a higher intake of water. As we age, the body's ability to conserve water is reduced. In addition, those 65 or older may not feel thirsty even when their bodies need water. Dehydration affects anyone who is sick with fever, diarrhea, nausea and/or vomiting. People who take diuretics ("water pills" that increase urination) such as furosemide and hydrochlorothiazide must monitor themselves closely for signs of dehydration.

Tips to stay hydrated


  1. dehy4Take water breaks throughout the day.
  2. Take a sip of water when you go to the kitchen or pass by the fridge.
  3. Carry a bottle of water with you in your car.
  4. Keep a water bottle with you at work.
  5. Drink a beverage with each meal.
  6. Drink more when exercising, especially if it's hot or humid. Drink one or two glasses of water or diluted fruit juice (one part juice to one or two parts water) about 30 minutes to an hour before you begin. Drink another glass or more when you're finished. (Skip the high-calorie sports drinks unless you're working out strenuously for at least 90 minutes.)
  7. dehy5Consider foods as sources of water, too. Lettuce, watermelon, broccoli, grapefruit, carrots and apples are all more than 80% water by weight. Low-fat cottage cheese, yogurt, potatoes and canned drained tuna all contain more than 70% water by weight.
  8. stay away from beverages containing caffeine (coffee, colas) when you feel fatigued and thirsty.  These act as diuretics, causing water loss.

Interesting fact: Did you know you could be mistaking thirst for hunger?

For most of us, there’s always that time of day when you think; “I’m hungry, it’s time I look for something to eat.” Without even really thinking about it, we open the fridge to scour for ready-to-eat foods at home. But the next time you get the same hunger signal again, it’s better to pause and ask yourself first. Are you really hungry or could you just be thirsty?

The truth is, most people confuse thirst and hunger, often mistaking the former for the latter. Clinical studies have shown that 37% of people mistake hunger for thirst because the thirst mechanism is so weak. By doing so, the body is led to think that it needs food when what it’s really asking for is water. Moreover, the fact that the symptoms of dehydration (i.e. feeling weak, dizzy and cranky) mimic those of hunger contributes to people’s confusion between the two signals.

Bottom Line:  If you’re not actively focusing on hydrating throughout the day, there’s a good chance you could be at least somewhat dehydrated, which could be negatively affecting your energy, vitality and immunity — as well as your appearance. Experiment with drinking more water throughout the day. You may observe an almost immediate difference in your well-being, and even if you don’t, establishing good hydration habits now will do many good things for your cellular health over the long haul.

“…We made from water every living thing. Will they not then believe?”  (The Noble Quran, 21:30)


Compiled by Neelam A Ismail

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