The importance of drinking water: dehydration explained in 6 stages

Posted on September 23 2021
The importance of drinking water: dehydration explained in 6 stages

Did you know that 60% of the human body is made of water? According to H.H. Mitchell, Journal of Biological Chemistry 158, the brain and heart are 73% water, the lungs are 83%, the skin contains 64% water, muscles and kidneys about 79% and bones are made of about 31% water.

Because so much of our body is made of water, it’s crucial that we replenish our water levels. So, what exactly is dehydration and what happens to us when we don’t get enough of the oh so refreshing H2O?

What is dehydration?

Our bodies naturally exert water through sweat, tears, and when we go to the bathroom. When we exert water, we must replenish our water levels, otherwise our bodies kick into conservation mode and we begin to suffer the effects of dehydration.

As your friendly reminder to drink your 8 glasses of water, get to know the six seriously scary stages of dehydration.

Stage One: Mild Dehydration

The more obvious sign that you might need a drink is the fact that you are thirsty. At this mild stage of dehydration, you might experience a dry mouth and lips, fatigue and headaches.

Percentage of water loss: >1%
Urine colour: Pale yellow

Stage Two: Moderate dehydration 

As you become more dehydrated, you’ll start to feel quite unwell. On top of your headache, fatigue and thirst, you might also find it difficult to focus on tasks, and you’ll likely feel lightheaded.

Percentage of water loss: 1%Urine colour: Yellow

Stage Three: Moderately serious dehydration 

You can tell that you’re becoming dehydrated when you feel dizzy or seriously lightheaded. At this stage, your blood pressure drops, causing your skin to dry and shrivel and your extremities to feel cold. You might also become confused, and your risk of fainting increases significantly.

Percentage of water loss: 2%
Urine colour: Deep yellow

Stage Four: Serious dehydration

By this stage, your headache will have progressed to become incredibly painful, and you won’t be able to stand. You’ll likely experience stomach cramps and nausea leading to vomiting and/or diarrhoea, both of which are extremely dangerous at this level of dehydration.

Percentage of water loss: 3 - 4%
Urine colour: Amber

Stage Five: Severe dehydration 

When you’ve lost 5 - 7% of your body’s water, you might notice the onset of fever and tremors. At this point, your body is trying to survive at all costs. Your body is finding it incredibly difficult to maintain blood pressure, and in an attempt to cool itself down, it slows its non-vital organs, beginning with the kidneys.

When you experience severe dehydration, it’s very likely that you will faint and, in more severe cases, slip into a coma.

Percentage of water loss: 5 - 7%
Urine Colour: Dark Yellow

Stage Six: Extreme dehydration 

At this point, you are in serious danger of dying. Your body has lost its ability to regulate its temperature, causing your organs to overheat. As a result, you’ll be unable to pee, become delirious, and likely die from liver failure. 

Percentage of water loss: 10%
Urine Colour: None

Now that you know the signs and seriousness of dehydration make sure to drink up! 

Having cool, refreshing water on tap is one of the easiest ways to stay hydrated. So be the hero, and invest in a water cooler for your home or for your office today. Those around you will love you for it!

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