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Combating Dehydration In America: Joint Pain, Sore Muscles and More

Updated on August 6, 2011

Many people experience dehydration symptoms because they are not consumming hydrating liquids. We have heard over and over from health and nutrition experts that we need to be drinking a minimum of eight, 8 ounce glasses of water every day.

Unfortunately, 75% of North Americans are chronically dehydrated because of insufficient water consumption. Most of us tend to drink water when we get thirsty because this seems to be the proper indicator that it is time to drink. However, this not true. Thirst is a sign that you are becoming dehydrated.

The body is made up of 70% water and it is vital to nearly every body process. Body functions water is essential for are regulating body temperature, circulation, proper digestion, various chemical reactions, nutrient absorption, flexibility of blood vessels, waste elimination and moisturizing the skin.

Water makes up 70% of muscle and about 75% of the brain. It is not difficult to see why water is one of the most important nutrients in the body. A comparison between the bodies need for food to water is a good example of how important water is to our well being. A human being can live up to five weeks without food but no more than 5 days without water.

We lose about two cups of water a day just in breathing. Other ways we lose water is through sweating and urination. A good way to check whether you are experiencing dehydration is by urine color. If you are well hydrated, urine will be very pale yellow and almost clear. If it is dark in color(except due to poorly absorbed vitamin supplements passing through) then you know you need to increase your water intake.


Dehydration symptoms range from mild, to moderate, to severe. Mild symptoms include thirst, apathy, bloating, muscle cramping, lack of energy, constipation, dry mouth and nose, light headiness, thirst and slow urine production.

Moderate symptoms include low blood pressure, poor skin elasticity, fast and weak pulse, deep and rapid breathing and sunken, dry eyes with low tear production. Severe symptoms include convulsions, heart failure, lack of urine, low or undetectable blood pressure, kidney problems, fainting and severe muscle contractions in the arms, legs, stomach and back.

Causes and Conditions associated with dehydration

Dehydration is a condition that can occur at any age. Causes of this condition vary among the different age groups. Elderly people may become dehydrated because their kidneys don’t work well, they may have bladder issues and do not want to drink, or they may be on medications that increase urine output. Babies and small children can become dehydrated because caregivers do not know how much fluids they need.

Children have a high metabolic rate so they need more water. Their kidneys do not conserve water as well as adult kidneys. Many adults become dehydrated because either they are substituting water with dehydrating beverages or they just are not drinking enough water throughout the day. Health experts believe that dehydration is the root cause of a number of health conditions including inability to lose weight, faulty digestion, fatigue, sore joints and dry skin. To eliminate these conditions simply increase your water intake.


Many people are under the impression that water can be replaced with the beverage of their choice to provide the body with adequate hydration. Beverages that contain caffeine, sugar or alcohol can lead to increased fluid loss either because of an increased need for water for digestion or due to the diuretic effects of the beverage.

Some good ways to help increase water intake: eat foods that are filled with water such as celery, melons, and soups. Add fresh lemon or lime juice to improve taste of water. For every cup of coffee or tea you drink, drink an extra glass of water. Drink purified water because it tastes better and is better for you than tap water. Instead of drinking black tea, drink herbal teas.

Maintaining a good level of hydration helps the immune system fight infection and helps the body eliminate toxins. Dehydration leads to nutritional, pH and chemical imbalances which eventually lead to illness and premature aging. It’s important to develop a method of reminder to drink at least eight 8 ounce glasses of water per day until it becomes a habit. Once the habit is developed drinking water will become automatic.


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    • profile image


      7 years ago

      never use Gatorade to hydrate. it's bad for you, it really doesn't do what it says it does.

    • Health Wise profile image

      Health Wise 

      8 years ago

      Water is without a doubt the most important thing when it comes to health.We simply don't drink enough of it. Thanks for the great hub.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I think the little bit of salt is to replenish the electrolytes lost through sweating and urination. A little salt is, in fact, necessary for proper brain function. It might dehydrate you more than just water but it's definately not as bad as caffinated drinks.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      The salt thing doesn't make sense. I'll have to study up on that. Salt causes dehydration...maybe I misunderstood.

    • mandybeau profile image


      9 years ago

      I was chatting to a guy that comes from the Middle east, and he advocates not just drinking water to combat all the nasties that you have mentioned, but also addding a pinch of salt to each glass. ( N.Z. is amazingly hot, we are in the middle of summer, and its blazing, everyone is dehydrated.) it seems, we are, a Nation of coffee drinkers, and few of us seem to like drinking water, Coffee is supposed to dehydrate the body faster...So I tried the salt and found that it was a lot longer before i felt thirsty again.

      Thnx for another interesting Hub.


    • droj profile image


      9 years ago from CNY

      I heard the "only drink when you're thirsty" advice on *NPR* of all places!  I was very irritated.  Terrible advise from a reputable, and popular, source.  I get many of the milder symptoms when I don't drink enough water; headaches, constipation, muscle cramps, etc, etc...

    • Jennifer Bhala profile image

      Jennifer Bhala 

      9 years ago from Upstate New York

      I believe water is one of the four most important basic requirements for health and wellness, along with oxygen, frequency and alkalinity.

    • ocbill profile image


      9 years ago from hopefully somewhere peaceful and nice

      Good reading. stuff I didn't know especially the signs. Although, If I drink mucho OJ th eurine will be darker but I am still hydrated

    • LondonGirl profile image


      9 years ago from London

      I'm a herbal (and normal) tea drinker as well, it's great stuff.

    • Patricia Costanzo profile image

      Patricia Costanzo 

      9 years ago from Behind the Redwood Curtain

      Steve, at what point are you drinking too much water. My (Doctor) brother-in-law, told me that he has patients who have taken it to the extreme. He says they are leeching the vitamins and minerals out of their bodies from consuming too much water.

    • MomK profile image


      9 years ago from Rural Arkansas

      Excellent information, Steve. I drink water throughout the day, and I encourage my students (I teach six special education students in grades 4-6). I have a restroom attached to my classroom which is very convenient. I know that your mind cannot focus properly when dehydrated, so I am encouraging these students to drink lots of water. It's an important habit for them to develop!

    • Ali Holden profile image

      Ali Holden 

      9 years ago from washington, DC

      Great work!! But I am suddenly thirsty...

    • profile image

      nadia nur 

      10 years ago

      hi u

    • healthgoji profile image


      10 years ago

      I have found that if you feel low on energy - drink some water. Also water helps hydrate the skin (prevents wrinkles, etc)

      Very good information

    • BkCreative profile image


      10 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      I get headaches too when I don't drink enough water which is why I have a headache right now. But why is it - we no longer have water fountains -  I grew up here in NYC and there were fountains everywhere.

      I lived in Seoul over a 4 year period and everywhere - there was free water - those big bottled tanks and paper cups so you can help yourself - restaurants, departments stores, schools, etc.

      And you are probably wondering why NYers don't drink more water - well there are no accessible public toilets, try finding such in the subways - unlike Seoul where all train stations had two large separate toilets.

      We - need - water!!!!!

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      I feel myself fatigue when I dont drink water, It is useful information.

    • Barbie-Perkins profile image


      10 years ago from Cincinnati, OH


      Great Information! I always say, "Eight, eight oz glasses of water a day helps keep the wrinkles away!"

      Thanks for sharing.  ~ Barbie Perkins

    • izettl profile image

      Laura Izett 

      10 years ago from The Great Northwest

      Adequate water consumption is especially important for pregnant women too- I learned this the hard way (minor health issues related to it) when I was pregnant. Thanks for a great hub!

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Very helpful. Thanks!

    • Shaun Lindbergh profile image

      Shaun Lindbergh 

      10 years ago from Cape Town, South Africa

      Yes, I liked the post. I have also learned that being hydrated an be an important fator with EFT. Any experience?

    • Netters profile image


      10 years ago from Land of Enchantment - NM

      Very good hub. Thank you. Living in the desert, I drink a lot of water. Everywhere you go someone has a bottle in their hand.

    • Lgali profile image


      10 years ago

      very useful info

    • hibiscus_mel profile image


      10 years ago from Marlton, New Jersey

      It is really true that lots and lots of people are becoming dehydrated. my stepson drinks 3-6 cans of soda. i'm not sure how many glasses of water.

      This is such a useful and informative hub. Thanks for sharing. ;-)

    • Dottie1 profile image


      10 years ago from MA, USA

      Thanks for the info on herbal tea that can be used in place of water. Now that it is getting cold in New England I prefer to drink something warm over cold water.

    • William F. Torpey profile image

      William F Torpey 

      10 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y.

      You've done a great public service in helping people to understand the perpetual need for sufficient water, stevemark. I'm a believer in the adage that advises us to "never pass a drinking fountain without taking a drink of water." I'm sure if you took a poll more people would say they drink enough water because they drink a lot of coffee, or beer, or soda, or whatnot.

    • Ande Moore profile image

      Ande Moore 

      10 years ago from Austin, Texas

      Thanks for the update. This was driven into me during my swimming years @ UT and with US Swimming. Not enough people get the information though. No to goldentoad, gatorade is made with sugar and with electrolites. This is good to supplement during training or after BUT NOT a substitute for your 8-12 of the wonderful H20! Gatorade and Powerade can also lead to dehydration and heat exhaustion. The sugar will make your body believe that it has energy but the water loss is still very significant. Great hub as usual, and keep us on our toes.

    • goldentoad profile image


      10 years ago from Free and running....

      Do you think gatorade is better than water to hydrate?

    • eovery profile image


      10 years ago from MIddle of the Boondocks of Iowa

      I get headaches when I do not drink enough. Thanks fo rletting people know this.


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