Because water has so many life-sustaining functions, dehydration isn't just a matter of being a little thirsty. The effects depend on the degree of dehydration, but a water shortage causes your kidneys to conserve water, which in turn can affect other body systems. You'll urinate less and can become constipated. As you become increasingly more dehydrated, the following symptoms will develop:
- diminished muscular endurance
- lack of energy
- decreased concentration
- tachycardia (galloping heart rate)
- increased body temperature
- permanent organ damage or death
Obviously, you don't want to develop the problems listed above, so you have to ask: How much water do I need each day?
Under normal conditions, the standard of 64 ounces a day is sufficient. That amount includes water from sources other than the tap. If you're an athlete or someone who spends a lot of time out in the sun, sweating, you'll probably need more. A good way to tell if you're adequately hydrated is by observing the color of your urine. If it's dark yellow or amber, that's a sign that it's concentrated, meaning there's not enough water in the wastes that are being eliminated. If it's light, the color of lemon juice, that's normal. Bathroom breaks should happen every two to three hours. If you don't need to urinate for longer periods of time, you're not drinking enough water.
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