Over the past month, you (like me or most other people over the holiday season) probably spent a great deal of your time funneling all kinds of liquids into your body.
Whether that was the beer you sipped on shortly before the Christmas party, the mulled wine you had at the Christmas party or the vodka shots you had after the Christmas party went a little wild, your liver was probably working overtime to make sure you didn't spend the first hours of 2018 in hospital.
But I'm sure that come New Year's Day, the only thing most of us were drinking was water, in an attempt to quell what might have been the worst hangover of our lives (and trust me - they only get worse). Hangovers are, of course, the result of your body being especially dehydrated after a night of heavy drinking, but what happens when you're like that all the time?
Let's explore a couple of unsettling things that happen to your body when it's constantly dehydrated.
1. You're always tired
Are you genuinely unsure whether you're a morning person or a night owl? If you find yourself struggling to get out of bed at all times of the day with a brain fog that follows you everywhere you go, then maybe it's worth having a glass of water or two. FatigueAnswers.com says that consistent dehydration can make your blood extra thick, which means your body has to do extra work to pump it round your body, meaning it can't focus on diffusing heat through your skin. The internal heat makes you sluggish, and makes it feel like your brain is running through treacle.
2. You get constipated
Let's be honest: nobody likes being constipated. Having to poop is a small tax we have to pay for eating all that delicious food, and if you're like me, you'll want it to be over as soon as it can. That simply isn't possible when you're constipated, and that's because when your stool moves to the colon, water is reabsorbed back into the body through your large intestine. When you're dehydrated, too much water gets reabsorbed, making it harder for the poop to move through your body. Needless to say, that isn't good, and your body could even reabsorb toxins and bacteria if you don't squeeze out your business in time.
3. You're not peeing that often
Sticking to the toilet theme: how often do you pee? And when you do, what color does it come out? Sorry to get personal here, but dark, infrequent pees are a surefire sign you're not drinking enough water, and that's not great for your kidneys. If you combine your lack of hydration with an increased intake of sodium and/or caffeine, then you might be left with kidney stones, which come about via the buildup of minerals in your urine, and trust me: it's going to be no picnic getting them out.
4. You've got dry skin
Some of us have to do a lot of work to make sure our skin is soft and silky smooth; applying a ton of lotions and oils every day or so to ensure we're at peak dermatological health. You might want to help yourself out, though, by maybe skipping that Coke or juice with your lunch, and instead going with a nice bottle of water. If your skin is abnormally dry, cracked or dull, AssociatesMD Medical Group says this is a surefire sign your body isn't getting enough water.
5. Your mouth is dry, and your breath stinks!
Although going to the dentist is low key one of the worst things about life, keeping your mouth healthy is super important for making sure your mouth smells only of freshly-devoured Chicken McNuggets. By drinking water, you're giving your body enough materials to make saliva, and when you've got enough saliva, your body can kill all the bacteria that makes your mouth dry and smelly. "If you’re not producing enough saliva in the mouth, you can get bacteria overgrowth and one of the side reactions of that is bad breath from chronic dehydration," Dr. John Higgins said, speaking to the website Everyday Health.
6. You're constantly overeating
Every once in a while, there's a really good reason to go on a good old-fashioned food binge. Heck, you might even have done it at least twice this holiday season. But if you're keeping the overeating up over the course of a year, it might signify your body's not getting enough water. Without enough water, your digestive organs can't release enough glycogens, which help you to regulate your hunger and cravings. Even worse: the foods you crave will be high in sodium and caffeine, which will only make you more dehydrated.
7. Your muscles keep cramping up
When your muscles seize up near the end of a grueling workout, it might be because it was a bad idea to have "going to the gym more" as one of your New Year's Resolutions. It might also be because your body is - you guessed it - dehydrated. When you exercise, you sweat, and when you can't get that water back, you take it from other places in your body; namely, the very muscles causing you to sweat so badly. The Mayo Clinic says that athletes in warm-weather climates especially should be sure to drink extra water to avoid these effects.
8. Your liver, kidneys and bowels stop working
When your body is in dire need of some H2O, then some of your most important digestive organs stop functioning. The website Liversupport.com says that dehydration can cause toxins to build up in your body due to infrequent urination, and these toxins stop your body from working as it should. When you're dehydrated and your blood's consistently too thick, then you might have a whole list of problems in the future. Don't risk it, folks.
9. If you're out in the sun, you'll be at risk of heat stroke
I'll never forget the day I got heatstroke. I was in Universal Studios Orlando and I KO'd next to a kiddie ride. To onlookers, I was the world's biggest scardey cat, but in reality, I was dehydrated. The fact that I go no sympathy from the medics in the park didn't help the situation. So if you want to save yourself the embarrassment of a similar situation, make sure you get enough H2O.
10. You could suffer from confusion or have a seizure
Electrolytes are crucial to our wellbeing. They are minerals that contain an electric charge - potassium, calcium, and sodium are some ofthe well-known ones. And when you're dehydrated the electrolyte balance of your system can get thrown off, leaving you feeling faint and confused, and, in the most extreme circumstances, it could even cause you to have a seizure.
11. Your eyes could swell up
Our eyes are the most liquid-y part of our bodies, so it only stands to reason that dehydration would have a serious effect on them. Doctors have found that in the most seriously dehydrated people, their eyes tend to "sit back" in their heads, causing swelling, which, if it ever happens to you or someone you know, is cause to immediately dial 911 as it's a medical emergency.
12. You're likely to be moody and cranky
When your whole body is basically flipping out over the lack of water in your system, you're not exactly going to be the happiest bunny around. Just like when you're hangry, if you're suffering from dehydration you will likely be moody and cranky.
13. You eventually stop sweating
While sweating itself is a sign of being too warm, as is dry and cracked skin, after a certain point, your body simply doesn't contain enough water to dry and cool itself down in this way and you stop sweating. Obviously, this is a sign that something is seriously wrong.
14. You'll start breathing rapidly
According to Medical News Today, rapid breathing is a side effect of dehydration because your body is unable to provide its cells with the energy they need. Needless to say, this is why dogs start panting when they're overheating too.
When it comes to drinks, we're all spoilt for choice. Coke, orange juice, milk, or whatever Kool-Aid is meant to be; but next lunchtime, why not have yourself a bottle of water? Sure, it's not as tasty or exciting, but as we've seen, it's absolutely vital for keeping your body at its very best.