Drinking 32 oz of water a day is not enough to stay hydrated. If you are drinking 32 oz of water a day, it means you are drinking only half the standard recommended amount of water required for adequate hydration. This can lead to dehydration, which can eventually cause various health issues.
- 91 oz (11 cups) for women
- 125 oz (15 cups) for men
What causes dehydration?
Water is essential for your cells and organs, and your body cannot function properly without it. Water is responsible for bodily functions such as:
- Transporting nutrients and oxygen to cells and tissues
- Regulating heart rate and blood pressure
- Maintaining body temperature
- Lubricating joints
- Protecting organs and tissues
- Producing saliva
- Removing waste and pollutants
Not drinking enough water is the main cause of dehydration. In children, the main causes of diarrhea are diarrhea and vomiting. In the elderly, dehydration often occurs as the result of medical conditions that result in low fluid intake or fluid loss. Dehydration can be especially dangerous in both the very young and very old.
Mild to moderate dehydration is easily reversible by drinking more water. Severe dehydration, however, may require medical attention and intravenous fluid administration.
What are signs you aren’t drinking enough water?
Dehydration can be mild, moderate, or severe depending on how much body weight is lost through fluids. Thirst and dark urine are the first indicators of dehydration—signs the body is attempting to increase water intake while decreasing water loss.
Thirst, however, is not always a reliable early indicator of the body's need for water. Older adults may stop feeling thirsty if they have been constantly dehydrated. Therefore, it is critical to drink more water during hot and humid weather or when sick.
Symptoms of dehydration are as follows:
Infants and young children
- Dry tongue
- Dry skin
- Dull eyes and cheeks
- No wet diapers for more than 3 hours
- No tears produced when crying
- Decreased urine frequency
- Dark yellow urine
- Dry skin
Severe dehydration can be life-threatening and can cause the following symptoms:
12 health risks associated with dehydration
- Muscle cramps: Muscle cramps can result from not drinking enough fluids. Involuntary muscular contractions or spasms occur when the nerves that attach to your muscles are not adequately surrounded by water and salt. This produces hypersensitivity and involuntary muscular contractions.
- Depression: Your brain accounts for 20% of the total amount of blood circulating throughout your body. This means that dehydration or a lack of water in the brain cells immediately reduces the brain's energy supply, resulting in lethargy, exhaustion, and depression.
- Seizures: Electrolytes such as potassium and sodium aid in the transmission of electrical signals from cell to cell. When electrolytes are out of balance, normal electrical instructions can become jumbled, resulting in involuntary muscle contractions and, in some cases, loss of consciousness.
- High blood pressure: Frequent dehydration makes you more prone to hypertension. When your cells are dehydrated, the brain prompts the pituitary gland to generate vasopressin, a hormone that induces constriction of blood arteries in dehydrated areas of the body. Blood pressure rises as a result of blood vessel constriction.
- Constipation: The food you eat is processed in the small intestine, where nonessential nutrients are turned to waste and expelled from the body. If you do not drink enough water, your intestinal cells begin to extract water from the waste in your intestine. As a result, stools harden and become difficult to move, causing constipation.
- Uremia: Drinking plenty of water allows your kidneys to easily filter out wastes. With insufficient fluid intake, the kidneys struggle to remove waste from the blood, and wastes that should have been expelled via urine continue to circulate throughout the body. As a result, waste products can accumulate in the joints, blood vessels, tissues and organs. This can eventually result in swelling and other uremia symptoms.
- Kidney stones: Dehydration causes urine to become more concentrated. When this occurs, minerals in urine collect and form crystals, which are deposited in the kidneys and become kidney stones.
- Kidney disease: When your body does not have enough water, a system that stores water is activated and signals the kidneys to restrict urine generation and cause capillaries to constrict. The resulting high blood pressure and urine retention in the kidneys can lead to kidney damage.
- Gallstones: Your gallbladder is a tiny organ positioned just behind your liver. Dehydration causes constriction of bile ducts in the liver. When bile accumulates and concentrates, it can result in the development of gallstones.
- Joint problems: With insufficient fluid intake, your cartilage surfaces rub against one other, causing the cells to wear out and deteriorate over time. Without enough nutrients for cell repair and regeneration, your body may develop joint issues.
- Heatstroke: Heatstroke or injury can range from moderate heat cramps to heat exhaustion or possibly life-threatening heatstroke if enough fluids are not consumed during physical activity and intense perspiration.
- Death: Water is required for all bodily processes. Severe dehydration can therefore be life-threatening and even lethal.
How is dehydration diagnosed?
Your doctor will assess your physical symptoms to determine whether you are dehydrated. Dehydration may cause fast heart rate or low blood pressure.
To confirm a diagnosis and assess the degree of dehydration, you may be required to undergo tests such as:
How to treat dehydration
Treatment for dehydration depends on the severity of the condition.
Mild or moderate dehydration can be managed by moving to a cool or shady location and drinking fluids such as water or electrolyte-containing sports drinks. Tips for treating mild dehydration include the following:
- Drink small amounts of fluid often rather than a large amount all at once. Drinking too much at once can cause you to vomit.
- Keep a water bottle with you and sip from it throughout the day.
- If you are having trouble drinking or eating, try sucking on ice chips or popsicles.
- Keep ice nearby so you don't have to get up as frequently if you are fatigued.
- Moisturize cracked lips.
- If you have diarrhea, drink liquids that are high in electrolytes such as oral rehydration solutions.
Seek medical assistance right away if you faint or lose consciousness or have other serious symptoms, such as heart palpitations or fever. Intravenous fluids administration may be prescribed by your doctor if you are critically dehydrated.
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Cleveland Clinic. How Much Water Do You Need Daily? https://health.clevelandclinic.org/how-much-water-do-you-need-daily/
University of Illinois. Dehydration. https://drs.illinois.edu/Page/SafetyLibrary/Dehydration
GoHealth Urgent Care. 6 Signs of Severe Dehydration and How to Treat It. https://www.gohealthuc.com/library/4-signs-severe-dehydration-and-where-go-help