Chronic Dehydration:
Drought Management in Your Body

So what happens when a person has a low level of chronic dehydration? Well, according to the research by F. Batmanghelidj, MD, (Author of Your Body's Many Cries for Water) there can be many ill effects. He explains that as the body receives less water, it enters drought management, and begins to ration where the water goes.

In order to do this, it starts making more histamine. Histamines are the chemical messengers responsible for allergic reactions, swelling, and pain. The primary purpose of histamine is to draw water to where it is released. However, in the process, it creates pain, inflammation, and allergic tendencies. When histamine (or one of it's relatives) hits a pain neuron, it causes the nerve to send a pain message to the brain. In fact, most pain medications work on histamine... trying to block it from sending the pain messages to the brain.

Another effect of drought management is that some areas that are less vital for survival get less water than they really need. Examples might be your joints or muscles creating joint or muscle pain. Your digestive system might get less water in chronic dehydration creating constipation, colitis, heart burn or ulcers. Everyone will manifest the pain of dehydration a little differently since their bodies will manage the water differently.

So if we experience pain in our body, and we have not had an injury to the area, or an infection, the first thing we should do, is make sure that we are fully hydrated. It would be advisable to do this for 2 weeks (or more) before beginning a long term pain medication. Often, this pain can be your body's cry for more water!

Symptoms of Chronic Dehydration

Just what kind of symptoms can long term dehydration cause?

  • Headaches and muscle pain
  • Neck and back pain
  • Joint pain and arthritis
  • Heartburn and ulcers
  • Stomach and gut pain
  • Colitis and constipation
  • False appendicitis
  • Chest and Anginal pain
  • Stress and depression
  • High blood pressure and cholesterol
  • Asthma and allergies
  • Weight gain and diabetes

It is beyond the scope of this website to go into all of these symptoms, but if you would like to learn more about how all these things are caused, Dr. Batmanghelidj has written a powerful and accessible book about this called Your Body's Many Cries for Water. I highly recommend this book to all my patients, and try to get them to help out their friends and family members with the information. It may save them many years of pain and many pills that can create great harm. You can also visit his website at

How is it that people can get chronically dehydrated in our modern world? Click here to learn how!

How do you fix it? Visit the Treatment of Dehydration page. Or learn more about the specific effects of dehydration during pregnancy or in children.

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