10 Signs of Dehydration: Why Your Head Might be Pounding or You’re Always Craving Sweets

March 19, 2019 Updated: March 19, 2019

Dehydration simply means your body does not have as much water and fluids as it should. Water makes up 60 to 80 percent of our entire body mass, so it makes sense that when we don’t getting enough H2O, all kinds of issues start to occur! To make sure your body can work at its best, drinking plenty of water every day is a must.

Even if you don’t actually feel thirsty, your body sends a whole range of signs to let you know you need to drink up! Here are 10 signs of dehydration your to watch out for:

1. Your Head Is Pounding


It’s not entirely clear why dehydration causes a headache, but the pain is real. It is possible that When your hydration levels drop, blood vessels in the head narrow in an attempt to regulate body fluid levels. This would make it harder for oxygen and blood to get to the brain, resulting a headache. Another theory holds that when the body is dehydrated, the brain can temporarily contract or shrink from fluid loss. This causes the brain to pull away from the skull, triggering a painful dehydration headache. Once rehydrated, the brain plumps up and returns to its normal state and headache is relieved.

2. Pipes Clog Up


Dehydration is one of the most common causes of chronic constipation. Water keeps the food you eat moving through your intestines, and it keeps your intestines smooth and flexible. If you don’t have enough water in your system already, water will be withdrawn from the large intestine to hydrate other, more important organs of the body. By the time the food waste reaches the rectum, most of the water has been absorbed. As a result, you have solid stools that are difficult to pass.

3. Standing Up Makes You Dizzy


If you stand up quickly and get a sudden rush of lightheadedness, chances are you’re overheated or you aren’t eating or drinking enough. Without enough fluids, your blood volume decreases, lowering your blood pressure and keeping your brain from getting enough blood, making you feel lightheaded or dizzy. While a glass of water may be enough to make you feel better, it will take more than that to rehydrate your body if you haven’t been eating or drinking much for too long.

4. You Crave Sweets


It’s not uncommon for the body to mistake the feeling of thirst for hunger, meaning that you may feel hungry when what you really need is water. Dehydration makes it difficult for your body to metabolize glycogen (stored glucose) for energy. So, you can actually get sugar cravings, which is a quick source of energy. If you’ve eaten enough food during the day but still feel the need to keep snacking, this is probably your body gently hinting that you don’t actually need more food—you’re just dehydrated.

Next time you feel the urgent need to grab a granola bar, cookie, or donut, ask yourself first: “Have I drunk water today?” “Am I thirsty?” Try reaching for your water bottle before you reach for that sweet treat.

5. Bad Breath


Wound-licking doesn’t always work, but your saliva indeed has the ability to limit the growth of bacteria or kill them directly. Dehydration can prevent your body from producing enough saliva. As a result, you can get bacteria overgrowth in the mouth, giving you terrible breath odor.

6. You Never Have to Urinate


What goes in must come out. If you’re drinking enough fluids, you should be able to produce between 400 to 2,000mL of urine in a 24-hour period, with a normal fluid intake of 2 liters per day. If you’re not urinating that frequently, it could be a sign you are not getting the right amount of fluids your body needs.

7. … But When You Do, Your Urine Is Extra Yellow

(Wikimedia Commons)

The amount of water you drink influences whether your urine is pale yellow or dark amber. People who drink more water and stay hydrated typically produce more diluted, pale urine compared to those who are drinking little fluids. An obvious sign of dehydration is when your pee has turned a darker shade of yellow. The human body defends against cellular dehydration by changing the amount of water retained or lost by the body. So, dark colored urine means that your body is retaining water to maintain cell volume. When you’re fully hydrated, there’s a higher ratio of water to waste in the urine, giving it a lighter color, and flushing out your system more completely.

8. You Feel Sleepy for No Reason


If you’re feeling exhausted but can’t quite figure out why, dehydration might be to blame. When you’re well hydrated, water moves into your bloodstream from your cells to help maintain blood levels and blood pressure. When you don’t have adequate fluids, however, your blood pressure will drop, decreasing blood flow to the brain along with oxygen supply as well. This lack of oxygen slows muscle and nerve functions, making you feel sleepier and more fatigued than usual.

9. Tears Ducts Dry Out


The body’s initial response to fluid loss is to preserve its current fluid levels. This leads to various conditions including: thirst, dry mouth, and a lack of tear production. Tears are necessary for providing clear vision. Tears wash away foreign matter in the eye and help reduce the risk of eye infections. When the eyes stop producing tears, they are no longer properly lubricated, which can lead to irritation, blurred vision and noticeable foreign matter in the eye.

10. Your Skin Stops Bouncing Back

(ilaria burlini/Shutterstock)

To keep the skin looking young and prevent sagging, it is essential to stay hydrated. Take a simple “pinch test” to see if you’re dehydrated—pinching the skin to see how fast it bounces back. The skin of a dehydrated person may remain “tented” and take some time to return to its normal, flat appearance. This likely occurs with mild to severe dehydration. In the latter case, you should rehydrate immediately, but slowly, to prevent dramatic changes in blood volume and blood pressure.

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.