Being thirsty carries with a lot more significance than needing to drink some water. The human body is comprised of largely water, and without a consistent supply, we will die fairly quickly. And death isn't the only damage that happens when you stop drinking water. There are plenty of other physical ailments that come between being thirsty and finally giving up the ghost. It is crucial to be able to listen to your body and know when you aren't getting enough water, because often times being thirsty isn't always a reliable indicator.
Every year during summertime, there's the occasional heat wave. And unfortunately, many people die during these times. Lots of people drink the same amount of water, or other fluids, every day regardless of the temperature of the weather. Knowing when the warning signs of dehydration are present so you don't succumb to a surprise bout of heat exhaustion which could easily kill you.
A common sign of dehydration is feeling excessively tired. This feels the same as if you didn't get enough sleep, and would like to take a nap. Your body uses lots of water to metabolize all the food you eat and turn it into energy, so when you don't have enough water, you will feel more tired. Consider drinking some more water when you feel tired, instead of taking mid day snooze.
One more warning sign is muscle soreness. When you exercise your muscles, either work or sports, you develop lactic acid, which is a byproduct of excessive muscle use. Without proper water intake, this lactic acid doesn't get flushed out, and can cause soreness. So if you feel sore often, even though you have done much work, consider drinking more water.
The easiest way to tell if you are dehydrated is by checking the color of your urine. The purpose of urination is to clean out your blood of unwanted chemicals before they build up to dangerous levels. When these chemicals are present in your urine, it will be yellow. When you are drinking enough water, and all of these chemicals are getting flushed out, your urine will be clear.
The good news is that by only listening to your thirst, you can do a pretty good job of keeping yourself hydrated. However, it's important to keep in mind that this feeling of thirst is really a last stage warning signal that shouldn't be felt very often. If you feel thirsty a lot, then you aren't drinking enough water. If you rarely feel thirsty, then you're doing a pretty good job.
Of course, without doing anything, your body uses a certain amount of water every day. So you'll eventually get thirsty even if you just sit there. Your body is always filtering your blood to remove chemicals so they don't grow to dangerous levels in your blood. So even if you don't think you've done anything spectacular that requires water, keep on chugging it anyway. Your body needs it.
Another obvious activity that increases your need for water is exercise. This causes an increase in lactic acid in your muscles, which needs to be filtered out. Exercise also causes the body to heat up, causing excess perspiration, which uses plenty of water. Often times you can go through a rigorous workout and not feel thirsty. Keep in mind that thirst is a last minute warning signal, and be sure to drink plenty of water while exercising.
Consuming alcohol is another cause of dehydration, as anybody who has woken up after a night of drinking can attest to. Your body requires a quite a bit of water to break down and metabolize the alcohol, and this makes you thirsty. However, by waiting until you are very thirsty to drink water, you run the risk of doing damage. So make sure to drink plenty of water along with whatever else you are drinking. This can also help reduce the risk of having a hangover the next morning.
Any drinks that contain caffeine also significantly dehydrate you, for a couple of reasons. Similar to alcohol, caffeine requires water to be broken down and metabolized. Also, caffeine is a diuretic, which increases your urinary output. This increased output naturally uses your valuable water supply, which makes you even more thirsty. For every cup of coffee or caffeine containing beverage you consume, consider drinking an extra glass of water to offset the effects.
Exercise, alcohol, and coffee can significantly dehydrate your body. This can lead to other health problems like stress, muscle soreness, and feelings of tiredness. By increasing your water intake when you do these things, you'll be offsetting their negative side effects, and make it much easier on your body.