With "water, water everywhere"... what are the causes of dehydration?

What are the causes of dehydration when we have plenty of water around us? There are several factors that work together to create this phenomena. One is the fact that our thirst sensation begins to decrease at the ripe old age of about 25 years old! There is also confusion about dry mouth as an early indicator of thirst. Another factor is that many people have lost the taste for water. They have grown up drinking soda, juice, tea, coffee... anything but water, so they will restrict their intake until one of these beverages is available. And many of these beverages take more water out than they put in! Yet another factor is the confusion of the thirst signal with hunger. Let's explore these causes of dehydration a little further.

Declining thirst sensation

Dehydration due to age From an early adult age, our bodies become increasingly dehydrated due to a gradually declining thirst sensation. Some of the so-called symptoms of aging are actually from long standing dehydration. So as we get older, we don't even notice that we are thirsty, and the thirst sensation continues to decrease into old age, where sometimes someone with an obviously dry mouth will not even realize they need to drink water! It should be understood that a dry mouth is a very late sign of dehydration and many other systems are sacrificed before the mouth becomes dry. This is because we need moisture in our mouth to be able to talk, eat, breath, and keep our teeth healthy. Saliva acts as a buffer against acidic substances and keeps oral bacteria at bay. An average person makes a liter of saliva a day. If saliva production is reduced, (like in Meth use or moderate dehydration) oral bacteria levels can increase 10 fold! So you can see that a dry mouth is a very late sign of dehydration since the body is trying to protect your mouth.

Designer Drinks

Coffee dehydrates

Another of the causes of dehydration is not drinking plain old water. When you substitute other drinks for water, your body has to spend energy and water to process them. If you drink a caffeinated beverage, it actually removes all the water that it is dissolved in, plus some from the reserves of the body. So it is stealing water from you. Alcohol also dehydrates you, and the cause of a hangover is a dehydrated brain. Energy drinks contain even more caffeine than coffee. The other problem, is that when you get a taste for these drinks, you tend to limit your fluid intake to when these drinks are available. It is hard to drink 8-10 glasses of juice a day. And they are full of empty calories. I also don't recommend Crystal Light, because it has aspartame, an artificial sweetener that can cause other health problems. It is best to acquire the taste for water. Try pouring your water in a glass and leaving it out to let the chlorine evaporate for a half hour, or get a filter that removes the impurities that make it taste bad to you. If you have to flavor your water, try a little lemon and maybe a drop of stevia. (That's how I get my kids to drink more water during the summer.)

Thirst confusion

Carbohydrates Another one of the causes of dehydration is that we can confuse the thirst signal with hunger. Our brain runs on hydroelectric power or sugar. It is not able to run on any other fuel, so when we get dehydrated, our brain sends out signals that it needs more sugar to be able to function. We might get shaky, foggy headed, grouchy, sleepy, and crave sugar or carbohydrates. These are all signals that the brain needs more fuel. This is why it is a good idea to drink one or two glasses of water a half hour before each meal, so you don't confuse the cries of your brain for more hydroelectric power with hunger signals while you eat. Engaging in this practice can even help you lose weight.

So now you know some of the causes of dehydration. So how does chronic unintentional dehydration effect your body? Click here for more info.

Return from Causes of Dehydration to Dehydration Effects

Return from Causes of dehydration to Home

Find out which muscles are causing you pain!

Trigger Point Chart


Related Pages

Proper Office Ergonomics

Ergonomics in the Office


What are Trigger Points?

What are Trigger points


Magnesium Deficiency

Magnesium Deficiency