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7 Side Effects of Not Drinking Enough Water

Getting enough fluids this time of year is essential to staying healthy.
woman drinking water

Summer is here, which means one thing has to change in your daily routine: You have to drink more water.

Walking or working out in hot temperatures can cause you to become dehydrated, and quickly, if you're not good about monitoring your water intake. Sakiko Minagawa, MS, RDN, LD says that adequate water consumption is vital for carrying out normal body functions, and not getting enough of it can throw your body off balance and even make you feel sick.

We asked Minagawa to share some of the side effects you could experience from not drinking enough water, but first, here is a quick explainer of how much water you should aim to drink every single day.

How much water should you be drinking each day?

While there are several different methods used to calculate how much water an individual needs, Minagawa says the general recommended intake is around nine, 8 fl. oz cups of water per day for women, and about 12.5 cups for men. The suggested water intake fluctuates as activity levels and temperatures outside increase. Intake needs are also respective to body size, as well.

"The body compensates with the increase in core temperature when exercising by sweating to dissipate the heat," says Minagawa. "Athletes should increase their fluid intake to replace the fluid lost through sweat."

In general, she recommends drinking 3 to 8 fluid ounces every 15 to 20 minutes of exercise to prevent dehydration.

RELATED: The Worst Exercise Mistake You're Making That Ups Your Risk of Coronavirus

What are some of the immediate side effects associated with not drinking enough water?

Minagawa says there are five side effects that could be indicative of dehydration.

  1. Rise in body temperature: Sweat is how your body naturally cools itself and stabilizes its internal temperature. Without enough water, your body cannot properly sweat and as a result, your core temperature increases, which can make you feel hot.
  2. Drop in blood pressure: Minagawa says dehydration occurs largely because of a decrease in the volume of plasma—which is the liquid part of the blood that contains proteins—and as a result, blood pressure also drops.
  3. Nausea or vomiting: In response to the rise in internal body temperature, a decrease in blood pressure, and an increase in heart rate, you could become nauseous or even begin throwing up.
  4. Muscle cramp: Sweating may cause a decrease in both plasma volume and electrolyte levels (think sodium and potassium), which is associated with exercise-induced muscle cramps.
  5. Constipation: Water helps to move food along through your gastrointestinal system. A deficit in water could cause you to feel backed up.

While it's not nearly as common, Minagawa does point out that it's possible to drink too much water and the side effects are similar.

What are some of the major long-term side effects of not drinking enough water?

If inadequate water consumption persists, you could become at risk of:

    1. Kidney stones and urinary tract infection: If you're someone who repeatedly has kidney stones or UTIs, it's likely you aren't drinking enough water to flush out bacteria and stone-forming minerals.
    2. Bronchopulmonary disorders (exercise-induced asthma): "Hydration status and the fluid in the lungs and airway play an important role in proper airway clearance," she says.

Avoid all of these side effects by carrying around a reusable water bottle with you this summer, although, there are plenty of other ways you can stay hydrated aside from drinking water alone. "Smoothies, soups, milk, fruits are also a great source of fluids," says Minagawa.

For inspiration on smoothies you can whip up this summer, check out The 25 Best-Ever Weight Loss Smoothies.

Cheyenne Buckingham
Cheyenne Buckingham is the news editor of Eat This, Not That!, specializing in food and drink coverage, and breaking down the science behind the latest health studies and information. Read more
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