Early signs of dehydration — don't wait for thirst

For many, the word "dehydration" brings to mind images of a dying human crawling across the desert with barely enough energy to move. While dehydration certainly can be deadly, even milder cases of dehydration can have physical and emotional side effects, according to WebMD. 
Roughly 50 to 60 percent of the adult human body is made up of water, reports The USGS Water Science School. Your body uses water for most processes including lubrication of the joints, moisturizing the skin, cleaning toxins out of your system and aiding in digestion, Mercola explains. If you lose too much water without replacing it, your body cannot perform properly. 
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Thirst, a signal from your body to replace fluids, typically happens when your body has lost between 1 to 2 percent of its total water supply. However, your body may need more water before the thirst signal kicks in, according to Mercola. 
Dry skin
Someone who is severely dehydrated may not sweat. Additionally, dehydration may lead to dry, cracking skin and flushing, according to Everyday Health. The next time your slather lotion on those dry hands, make sure to grab a glass of water too.
Cramping
Low fluids in your car can cause the engine to seize. The same thing can occur in your body if it lacks enough lubrication: When muscles start to heat up, you may get some very painful cramps. Drink a glass of water to help reduce cramping after a workout session. According to Everyday Health, "Changes in the electrolytes, changes in the sodium and potassium can lead to muscle cramping as well.”  
Headaches 
Before you reach for the aspirin, try swigging a cup of cool water. Your headaches could be a sign of dehydration. Without enough water the fluid sack surrounding your brain may become depleted, causing your brain to put pressure on parts of your skull. Drink up and keep your head healthy, according to Everyday Health. 
Sweet-tooth temptation
Your body needs water to release certain nutrients, including glycogen. If you are dehydrated, your body may tell you that you need sugar, which often presents itself as cravings for chocolate and other unhealthy goodies. When you get that craving, grab some fruit instead. High in natural sugars and water, fruit will help ease your cravings and get your body's water levels back up to normal, according to Everyday Health. 
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Dehydration is often the result of illness (especially vomiting and diarrhea), sweating, diabetes and frequent urination (often a side effect of medications or alcohol), according to Mercola. A simple way to make sure you are drinking enough water is to drink enough that your urine is light yellow or clear when you go to the bathroom. If your urine is dark yellow, you need more water in your system. 
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