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Not drinking enough water can cause these 6 common symptoms

It’s important for the body to take in enough water every day so it can function properly.

Dr. Marjan Moghaddam, for Henry Ford Health System
Whatever you do, make sure you get in those six to eight glasses. Otherwise, dehydration could cause a whole host of problems.

Human beings are made up of about 80% water. Every organ, cell and tissue in our bodies uses it to function properly, which is why drinking enough water every day is important.

We’re made up of water more than anything else. Drinking six to eight 8-ounce glasses of water daily is what’s recommended. Six is fine for most people — eight if you’re more active. And if you drink Gatorade or Powerade after an hourlong workout, know that water is still better. You don’t need to replenish your electrolytes after an hourlong workout.

If drinking water is something that always falls by the wayside during your day, fill a water bottle in the morning and keep it close by to track how much you’re drinking. Eating your water in the form of water-dense fruits and veggies like cucumbers, melons, berries, lemons and limes is also a great way to supplement your fluid intake.

What happens if you don’t drink enough water

Whatever you do, make sure you get in those six to eight glasses. Otherwise, dehydration could cause a whole host of problems. Here are a few side effects.

1. Persistent headaches. One of the first things you might notice when you’re dehydrated is a throbbing headache. The good news? If dehydration is the cause, it should go away shortly after you drink a large glass of water.

2. Sluggish bowel function. There are water receptors in the colon, and they pull water from the body to make the stools softer. If you don’t get enough water, hard stools and constipation could be common side effects, along with abdominal pain and cramps.

3. Dull skin. Dehydration shows up on your face in the form of dry, ashy skin that seems less radiant, plump and elastic.

4. Fatigue. If you’re not replenishing your fluid intake, your energy levels could plummet, and you could experience fatigue and brain fog. So the next time you reach for another cup of coffee, see if it’s water that you need instead.

5. Weight gain. Sometimes people mistake thirst for hunger, and they eat more, but really they just need to drink more. Sometimes if you have a glass of water, the hunger cues will go away.

6. Dry mouth. If you’re not getting enough water, you can have dry mucous membranes — i.e., a lack of saliva. This can make it difficult to talk, swallow and even breathe. Luckily, this can easily be solved by drinking water.

Dr. Marjan Moghaddam is a family medicine physician who sees patients at Henry Ford Medical Center in Capitol Park and Harbortown.

An important note: If you have heart failure, less water is better — you don’t want your body to retain too much fluid, forcing your heart to work harder. Aim for less than 2 liters daily from all liquid sources. If you have questions, talk to your doctor to see what is right for you.

For everyone else, while six to eight glasses is preferred, going too far above and beyond that won’t help you. In fact, drinking too much water can lead to brain swelling and fluid overload. Find a happy balance between six to eight glasses daily to stay healthy.

To find a doctor at Henry Ford, visit henryford.com or call 800-436-7936. Want more advice from Henry Ford experts? Subscribe today to the Henry Ford LiveWell health and wellness blog to receive weekly emails of our latest tips.

Dr. Marjan Moghaddam is a family medicine physician who sees patients at Henry Ford Medical Center in Capitol Park and Harbortown.

Members of the editorial and news staff of the USA TODAY Network were not involved in the creation of this content.
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