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Water and the Human Body

Updated on March 13, 2015

Water is a liquid that is transparent and odorless. It is made up of hydrogen and oxygen (H2O). Water is so very important for the human body. Without it, life would not exist. The human body is made up of mostly water. In fact, it's about 95% water. It is for this reason that it should not be taken for granted.

Functions of Water

Water serves so many functions for the human body. Just a few of them are listed below.

  • regulates body temperature
  • assists in the transport of oxygen to the cells of the body
  • flushes the kidneys removing waste products from the body
  • lubricates the joints
  • helps to regulate body weight

When Things go Wrong: Dehydration

Dehydration is a condition in which the body is lacking sufficient water, meaning that it has lost more water than it has received. Water loss is an almost constant occurrence. Our bodies are losing water everyday as well as every minute. We lose water through almost everything that we do. For instance, we lose water every time we:

  • exhale
  • urinate
  • defecate
  • vomit
  • sweat

This doesn't sound like a lot, but our bodies are constantly releasing water through our pores, so in other words, we are sweating non-stop. Even when we are sedentary, we are still sweating. You are unable to notice it because it evaporates almost immediately.

There are such things that will cause the body to lose water at a faster rate. They include caffeine, alcohol, diuretics and certain medications. If these things are ingested, the consumption of water must be increased in order to avoid symptoms of dehydration.

Subtle Symptoms of Dehydration

There are many symptoms of dehydration, but most of them are so subtle that a lot of people don't even notice them until they become severe. A few examples include:

  • thirst or dryness of the mouth
  • chapped lips
  • headache
  • pain in joints and/or muscles
  • constipation
  • a strong odor upon urination as well as dark-colored urine

By the time you experience any of these symptoms, you are already in the beginning stages of dehydration. At this point, it is in your best interest to get drinking as quickly as possible to avoid further complications.

One thing worth mentioning is that not everyone with dark-colored urine is experiencing dehydration. There are certain vitamins and medications that will cause the urine to be darker in color as well.

Severe Symptoms of Dehydration

If left untreated, dehydration can become more severe. Some of those symptoms include:

  • high cholesterol
  • diabetes
  • neck pain
  • colitis
  • high blood pressure
  • arthritis
  • depression
  • asthma
  • muscle cramps
  • low back pain
  • chronic fatigue
  • varicose veins
  • obesity

As you can see, there are numerous conditions that may occur from the lack of water in the body.


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How Much Water Should You Drink?

The amount of water that should be consumed is different for everyone. A good rule to follow is to divide your weight by 2, and that is how many ounces of water you should be drinking each day.

Can Too Much Water Be Consumed?

You may ask if it is possible for you to ingest too much water, and the answer is "yes". It is possible for a person to drink too much water, It is called "water intoxication" and it causes the cells in the body to swell or plump up to their fullest capacity. When this swelling occurs, a number of manifestations may result. They include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • seizures
  • coma
  • irregular heartbeat
  • fluttering eyelids
  • fluid in the lungs

If adequate treatment is not provided quickly, death will occur.

Treatment for Water Intoxication

Generally, there is no home remedy for water intoxication other than to stop the intake of water. Theoretically, if you were able to get the person to ingest a few teaspoons of salt, it probably wouldn't hurt, but the best treatment is to get them to a hospital or medical facility as soon as possible. This facility will most likely start an IV and administer a hypertonic saline solution drip.

Recovery from Water Intoxication

Recovery from water intoxication is dependent upon the length of time it took for the person to get treated. If the cells internal damage is not too bad or if they haven't had too much swelling, then recovery time should only take a few days.

The Key is to Drink in Moderation

We need water in order to survive, so the key to getting an adequate supply of water to the body each and every day is to drink in moderation. The kidneys are our filtering system; and they have the ability to do this at a rate of about 15 liters each day. It is for this reason that, unless you sit and gulp water by the gallons, you are extremely unlikely to experience water intoxication.


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