Are You Drinking Enough Water?

A woman holds a small glass filled with water in her cupped hands.

Water is the principal chemical component of the human body, so it is important to be sure you're drinking enough. (Image: via Pxfuel)

Are you drinking enough water? The human body consists of more than 60 percent water. Water is used to moisten tissues in the eyes, nose, and mouth. It also protects the body’s organs and tissues. Besides that, water carries nutrients and oxygen to the cells. And if you think that’s all then you’re probably neglecting the fact that water also lubricates the joints.

When are we drinking enough water? 

The U.S. National Academy of Science recommends that men drink about 15.5 cups (3.7 liters) of fluids per day. Women are recommended to drink 11.5 cups (2.7 liters) of fluids per day.

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The reason is that since water is the principal chemical component of the human body, our body literally depends on water to survive. Roughly speaking, a person can survive without water for about 3 days. Any longer and the body won’t be able to carry out many of its essential functions. Among them are functions like balancing the internal temperature or just keeping the cells alive.

What does water do for the body?

Every time you urinate, sweat, or have bowel movements, you get rid of waste. An important agent in all of these functions is water, or the right amount of hydration.

Imagine a hot summer day — the sun beating down on you. Without sweat running down your face and skin, your body would simply overheat, because the water in your body is used to regulate your body temperature.

If you have ever climbed a staircase or run across a busy street, you could do so without pain and squeaking like a rusty door hinge because your joints are lubricated by water.

Are you drinking enough water to keep your joints lubricated?
One of the reasons you can climb the stairs without pain is because your joints are lubricated by water. (Image: Siam Pukkato via Dreamstime)

How does not drinking enough water affect the body?

Every day, you lose water through breathing. You lose water when you sweat and when you urinate or have bowel movements.

The body requires water in some form for most of its essential functions, which is why you need to replenish it consistently. Otherwise, your body functions — like metabolism, digestion, temperature regulation, and detoxing — will not work optimally.

Symptoms of dehydration

Dehydration happens when you’re taking in less fluid than your body actually uses. Then, as a result of this, your body doesn’t have enough water and other fluids to carry out its usual functions. In other words, if you don’t replace the fluids your body loses, you will get dehydrated.

Dehydration, and its symptoms, are especially dangerous for children and older people.

Here’s how to notice if you’re dehydrated:

According to the Mayo Clinic, the following are the symptoms of dehydration in children and adults.

Infant or young child

  • Dry mouth and tongue
  • No tears when crying
  • No wet diapers for three hours
  • Sunken eyes, cheeks
  • Sunken soft spot on top of the skull
  • Listlessness or irritability
Little baby legs and bottom in diaper and blue onsie.
Having no wet diapers for three hours is a sign that an infant may be dehydrated. (Image: Famveldman via Dreamstime)

Adult

  • Extreme thirst
  • Less frequent urination
  • Dark-colored urine
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion

The signs and symptoms may be different in young children, varying depending on the age. 

It is always better to be safe than sorry. There are situations that call for more immediate action and professional attention.

When should you see a doctor regarding dehydration?

  • Has had diarrhea for 24 hours or more
  • Is irritable or disoriented and much sleepier or less active than usual
  • Can’t keep down fluids
  • Has bloody or black stool

Other causes of dehydration besides not drinking enough water

Drinking water every day — the right amount of water — is essential as you by now realize. However, dehydration can also occur due to other reasons besides not drinking enough water. 

A woman at the beach drinks from a plastic water bottle.
Drinking the right amount of water every day is essential. (Image: via Pxhere)

Diarrhea or vomiting

Having diarrhea can cause your body to lose a lot of water, along with electrolytes. Because this happens in a short period of time, you lose a lot of fluids and minerals.

You can easily mitigate this, making sure to make up for the water that the body loses from vomiting or diarrhea.

Fever

As a rule of thumb, the higher your fever, the more water your body requires to regulate its temperature.

Even though fever is the body’s reaction when it fights infections, the body still requires adequate hydration to prevent it from overheating.

Excessive sweating

During the summer months, it can get very hot. Whether you’re indoors or outdoors, this can lead to excessive sweating. Many people exert themselves a lot for their jobs, while gardening or doing yard work, or when they go for a workout at the gym. In all these cases, replacing the fluid and minerals your body loses from sweating is very important. Remember this, especially if you are coming from a dry area to visit a humid area. That’s because humid weather can increase the amount of sweat and the amount of fluid you lose.

Increased urination

Some people may have an undiagnosed condition of diabetes. Or they may be taking certain medications that have a diuretic effect, like some blood pressure medications. Being mindful of your state of hydration can help to ensure that your body has enough fluids.

Conclusion

Your body consists of more than 60 percent water. Experts recommend you drink an average of 2-3 L (9-13 cups) per day. A woman who is breastfeeding should stay closer to 12 cups, and children should drink around 6-8 cups of water a day.

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