While dietary supplements and fresh produce can improve your health status in the long run, the easiest (and most inexpensive) way to give your body a revitalizing boost is to keep a bottle of water handy. If you’re unsure of your hydration status, taking a look at your urine is the simplest and most efficient way to tell if you’re drinking enough water, but that’s certainly not the only indicator of your level of hydration. Dehydration can wreak havoc on the heart, the muscles, and the skin, and because your body is constantly losing water due to functions like breathing, sweating, and going to the bathroom, it’s of the utmost importance to replace the fluids you’ve lost.
If you’re working out consistently, you need to be sure to replace all of the fluids you’ve lost here as well. According to Greatist, the average man needs 3.7 liters of water a day, but you should up this intake depending on how much fluid you’ve lost during workouts and strenuous daily activities. While drinking water is king for rehydrating, you can also up your fluid intake by eating fruits and vegetables that hold a lot of water within them — cucumbers, apples, iceberg lettuce, celery, and tomatoes are great for this. However, if you find that you’re not drinking quite enough water and you’re not eating produce that’s heavy in water content, you’ll want to watch out for these five unusual signs that you may be dehydrated.
1. Your skin feels dry, excessively oily, or less elastic
If you suspect you may be dehydrated, one of the easiest ways to tell is by taking a look at your skin, and you can perform this at-home test to see if you should be drinking more water. The Save Institute recommends pinching the skin on the backs of the hands and pulling it upwards — if your skin drops slowly and remains in a lifted position for a few seconds, it means you may be dehydrated. If you’ve got plenty of water in your system, your skin should snap back to normal immediately.
Elasticity in the skin is present in well-hydrated people because there is water in and between the skin cells, according to eHealthStar. And, having less water in the body (and in the skin) results in skin that is not as full and does not bounce back as quickly.
Not only does dehydration affect elasticity, but it can also cause skin to become dry, cracked, or excessively oily. The Dermal Institute explains that even oily skin can be dehydrated — to make up for the lack of moisture present in the skin, the sebaceous glands can overproduce oil to make up the difference. This can make naturally oily skin even oilier, which can also spell trouble for acne-prone skin.
2. You stop sweating
While you may be used to going to the gym and leaving in what feels like a puddle of your own sweat, dehydration can cause a severe lack of sweating even during your most difficult work out. Most of your sweat glands are located in your palms, under your arms, and in the soles of your feet, and the main reason that you sweat in the first place is to cool down your internal body temperature so that you don’t overheat. Healthy Living explains that when you’re exercising and your internal temperature rises above normal, sweating is the natural process that your body goes through in order to keep you cool.
If you’re not sweating even during your hardest workouts, it’s a sign that your body is holding onto as much fluid as possible to ensure other parts of your body, like your heart and brain, can function efficiently. It can be quite dangerous to work out if you are dehydrated to the point of failing to produce sweat, as this also means that your body does not have a means to cooling its internal temperature down, which can lead to heat exhaustion or heat stroke. If you find that you’re sweating excessively during heavy exercise or exercise performed in hot and humid climates, this can also lead to dehydration fairly quickly, so be sure to have a water bottle handy at all times and drink water before, during, and after all workouts.
3. You’re craving sweets
Feeling hungry even if you’ve eaten recently? Try reaching for a glass of water first — though you may think it’s hunger pangs that you’re feeling, you may actually just be dehydrated. Everyday Health explains that the liver requires water to release glycogen, which is the stored form of glucose and the main source of energy for cells. Staying hydrated helps the liver release this stored energy, and you can actually feel as if you’re hungry if your body is lacking in fluids and thus is not releasing as much glycogen.
You’re more likely to crave sweets or carb-heavy foods when you’re lacking in fluids because of the lack of released stored energy as well. This is why you may find yourself reaching for a candy bar when you should really try reaching for your water bottle. If you can’t resist the sugary urge, go for a piece of fruit that has a high water content like watermelon or cantaloupe — these fruits can satisfy your sweet tooth and also help you rehydrate.
4. You’ve got bad breath
Though you wonder why, even after chewing gum and brushing your teeth more than twice a day, you’re still experiencing bad breath, you may need to look toward drinking more water for the solution. A2Z of Health, Body, and Fitness explains how saliva is actually your best weapon against halitosis because it’s a natural cleanser for the inside of your mouth. While a good cleaning regimen is the proper place to start to rid bad breath immediately, a steady saliva production will keep your breath healthy all day long. If you’re dehydrated, however, you may not be producing enough saliva to keep the bacteria in your mouth at bay, thus giving you bad breath.
If you find that your breath seems consistently smelly and you experience the sensation of dry mouth, then it’s very possible that sipping water throughout the day in addition to properly hydrating can significantly help both ailments.
5. Your heart is racing
If you find that your heart is still working overtime even after your difficult workout has finished, you may need to up the water intake. When you’re properly hydrated, your heart works to maintain a healthy blood pressure and pump a steady flow of blood through your body. Men’s Fitness explains that when you’re dehydrated, the volume of blood in your body is decreased, forcing your heart to work even harder to pump out the necessary amount of blood and spread fluids to areas that need it most. You’ll probably also find that your blood pressure drops when you’re dehydrated, as this allows for an easier distribution of blood throughout the body.
In cases of extreme hydration, your heart may pump over 100 beats per minute and cause dangerous and uncomfortable heart palpitations. Be sure to stay hydrated to avoid any discomfort in your chest, and talk to your doctor if you’re staying hydrated and your heart rate is still above your normal rate.