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The Silent Chronic Dehydration Crisis

By Chris Brown

According to one study, 75 percent of Americans live in a state of chronic dehydration. This high number doesn't seem so implausible when you consider that humans can lose 3-4 percent of their body weight in water before any symptoms emerge. When symptoms do show, they are often mistaken for other illnesses or ignored as normal bodily fluctuations. However, recognizing and addressing the symptoms of chronic dehydration can improve one's life quality and help prevent future health problems such as kidney failure, high blood pressure, urinary tract infections, and dementia.

Are You Sick or Chronically Dehydrated?

Because a majority of the population is always dehydrated to some degree, the symptoms of chronic dehydration can often get attributed to other illnesses. The chronically dehydrated can experience symptoms of constant fatigue, constipation, muscle weakness, headaches, and even fever and chills. Rather than attributing the problems to dehydration, many go right to other, more serious disorders such as chronic fatigue syndrome or viral illness. 

When dehydration induces even more discreet signs, people aren't alarmed enough to investigate its cause. Chronic bad breath, dry skin, craving sugary foods, and regular muscle cramps are all signs that your body needs more hydration. Because of its impact upon the skin, a simple test for dehydration is to pinch the skin on the back of your hand. If it takes longer than a couple seconds to spring back into position, you're likely dehydrated. Don't feel like pinching yourself? Examine the toilet next time you pee. If your pee is dark, you likely need more water. However, if your urine is clear, and you are still feeling dehydrated, you may need to consume an electrolyte-heavy drink or a salty meal.

Why Do We Get Chronically Dehydrated in Modern Society?

Historically, and presently in some parts of the world today, dehydration is the result of limited access to clean water sources. In the modern United States, most places have clean water running from any water faucet or tap. Because of this, the modern dehydration pandemic comes from the marketed refreshment of sugary sodas, alcohol, and coffee. Sugary sodas, in particular, dehydrate you while simultaneously tricking your body into thinking it is getting hydration and thus relieving your thirst temporarily. If that is all that one drinks, a person can quickly become dehydrated without realizing it.

The Solution to Chronic Dehydration

The solution to chronic dehydration is simple enough, drink more water. If you feel like doing the math, you should be drinking between a half-ounce to an ounce of water per pound of body weight, depending upon ambient temperature and activity. If you exercise intensely, you may require even more water. Listening to your body and drinking water (and not sugary sodas) when you feel thirsty is a good barometer for maintaining healthy hydration.

To learn more about your health, wellness and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Middleburg Heights, Ohio.

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