By Becky Bell
Water is absolutely necessary for survival. It makes up approximately 60 percent of the human body, with every system depending on water to function properly.
Thus, dehydration—or a lack of body water—has widespread repercussions.
While mild dehydration is easily remedied, severe dehydration is a serious condition that can lead to loss of consciousness, organ failure or even death.
This article discusses the common signs and symptoms of dehydration.
What Is Dehydration?
Water is constantly leaving your body, mostly through sweat, urine and stools. An adequate amount of water must be consumed to make up for this loss.
Dehydration occurs when more water is leaving the body than coming in. It can be caused by either a lack of fluid intake or excessive fluid loss.
Here are some of the common causes of dehydration:
- Vigorous exercise: Intense exercise leads to fluid loss through sweat. If fluids are not replaced by drinking water, you can become dehydrated.
- Exposure to heat: Heat can cause you to lose fluid through sweat. You may become dehydrated if you don't drink extra water when it's very hot outside.
- Vomiting and diarrhea: Vomiting and diarrhea both cause significant fluid loss that can lead to dehydration.
- Nausea: Many people don't feel like eating or drinking when they are nauseated. It's important to continue drinking water so you don't become dehydrated.
- Burns or skin infections: Water can be lost through severe burns and skin infections.
- Diabetes: When blood sugar levels are high, the body increases urine production to eliminate sugar from the body. This can lead to dehydration if this loss is not matched with an increase in water consumption.
- Fever: A fever may contribute to fluid loss through sweating.
Summary: Dehydration occurs when more fluid is leaving the body than being consumed. Factors that decrease fluid consumption or increase fluid losses can contribute to dehydration.
Thirst is a craving for fluid that serves as an automatic reminder to drink water.
It's often the body's first indicator that it needs more water.
For most people, drinking when they're thirsty is an effective method for staying hydrated.
However, there are some situations in which thirst might not be a reliable indicator of hydration status.
For example, older people may need to consciously manage their fluid intake, as your sense of thirst tends to decline with age (4).
In addition, you may need to drink beyond simply satisfying your thirst if you are sweating profusely. For example, intense exercise and exposure to high temperatures can cause you to lose a large amount of water through sweat.
In these situations, you may need to drink additional water to stay hydrated.
Summary: Thirst is the body's first indicator of dehydration. For most people, responding to thirst effectively prevents dehydration.
2. Changes in the Color or Amount of Your Urine
Your urine can tell you a lot about your hydration status, since it accounts for the majority of the fluid that leaves your body.
Thus, controlling the amount and composition of urine is one way in which the body is able to maintain proper fluid balance.
Urine, which is produced by the kidneys, consists of both water and waste products that your body needs to eliminate.
If you are dehydrated, the kidneys conserve water by concentrating urine. This allows waste to be eliminated while retaining water for important biological functions (5).
On the other hand, cloudy, dark yellow urine is a sign of dehydration. A honey-yellow color may indicate mild dehydration, while a deep, amber-yellow color with a strong odor can signal severe dehydration (8, 9).
In addition to controlling the concentration of urine, the kidneys can also conserve fluid by decreasing the amount of urine produced. In fact, if the body becomes severely dehydrated, the kidneys may stop making urine altogether.
However, urine output varies from person to person, so there is no set amount of urine you should be producing every day. If you notice a significant decrease in urine, you may be dehydrated (10).
Keep in mind that certain foods, medications and medical conditions can also influence the color and amount of urine. If your urine is consistently a color other than pale yellow, you should consult your doctor.
Summary: The color and amount of urine that your body produces are good indicators of your hydration status. Dark yellow urine or a low urine output are signs of dehydration.
3. Fatigue or Sleepiness
Fatigue or tiredness can have many different causes, but dehydration can be one of them.
For this reason, drinking an adequate amount of water is particularly important during exercise.
However, you don't have to be exercising to experience dehydration-related fatigue.
Studies have shown that fluid loss amounting to 1–3 percent of your body weight, which is considered mild dehydration, can cause feelings of fatigue and sleepiness during normal daily activities.
In a study of young, healthy women, water restriction for 24 hours caused sleepiness, confusion, fatigue and decreased alertness.
All of these symptoms improved when the women were allowed to freely drink water at the conclusion of the 24-hour period (9).
This amount of fluid loss can easily occur during normal daily activities if you're not drinking an adequate amount of fluid throughout the day.
Summary: Fatigue or sleepiness can be a sign of dehydration. Drinking water may boost your energy and help you feel more alert.
One study found that a fluid loss of 1.4 percent of body weight caused headaches and moodiness in healthy women (17).
Another study found similar results in men. Water restriction for 37 hours, which resulted in a 2.7 percent fluid loss, led to headaches and difficulty concentrating (18).
Fortunately, evidence shows that headaches caused by dehydration can be relieved by drinking water.
In one small study, all but one of 34 people who experienced a dehydration-related headache found relief from drinking water.
In fact, drinking water provided headache relief within 30 minutes for 22 out of 34 people, while 11 other participants found relief within three hours (16).
Keep in mind that there are many different types of headaches and they are not all caused by a lack of hydration.
Nevertheless, a headache may be a sign that your body needs more water.
Summary: Dehydration can cause headaches. In most cases, drinking water can resolve a dehydration-related headache.
5. Changes in Skin Elasticity
Dehydration can cause changes to the appearance and texture of your skin.
Your skin is made up of approximately 30 percent water, which is responsible for its fullness and elasticity (5).
Healthy, well-hydrated skin will return to its normal shape after being pulled and stretched. This elastic nature of skin is known as skin turgor.
On the other hand, when the body is dehydrated, fluid is pulled away from the skin and diverted to major organs to keep them functioning properly. This shift of fluid away from the skin causes it to lose its elasticity.
To test the elasticity of your skin, pinch your skin between your thumb and your forefinger.
In addition, a lack of fluid in the skin can cause dryness and make skin feel cool and clammy to the touch.
Summary: Decreased skin turgor or elasticity, is a sign of dehydration. Skin that is dry, cool and clammy may also indicate dehydration.
Many people shop online for everything from clothes to appliances. If they do not like the product, they simply return it. But there's an environmental cost to returns.
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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Dolf Gielen and Morgan Bazilian
John Kerry helped bring the world into the Paris climate agreement and expanded America's reputation as a climate leader. That reputation is now in tatters, and President-elect Joe Biden is asking Kerry to rebuild it again – this time as U.S. climate envoy.
Energy Is at the Center of the Climate Challenge<p>The <a href="https://science2017.globalchange.gov/chapter/1/" target="_blank">effects of climate change</a> are already evident across the globe, from <a href="https://theconversation.com/100-degrees-in-siberia-5-ways-the-extreme-arctic-heat-wave-follows-a-disturbing-pattern-141442" target="_blank">extreme heat waves</a> to <a href="https://science2017.globalchange.gov/chapter/12/" target="_blank">sea level rise</a>. But while the challenge is daunting, there is hope. Solar and wind power have become the <a href="https://www.irena.org/publications/2020/Jun/Renewable-Power-Costs-in-2019" target="_blank">cheapest forms of power generation globally</a>, and technology progress and innovation continue apace to support a transition to clean energy.</p><p>In the U.S. under a Biden administration, long-term national climate legislation will depend on who controls the Senate, and that won't be clear until after two run-off elections in Georgia in January.</p><p>But there is no shortage of <a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/features/2020-biden-climate-change-advice/" target="_blank">ideas for ways Biden</a> could still take action even if his proposals are blocked in Congress. For example, he could use executive orders and direct government agencies to tighten regulations on greenhouse gas emissions; increase research and development in clean energy technologies; and empower states to exceed national standards, <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-autos-emissions-california/defying-trump-california-locks-in-vehicle-emission-deals-with-major-automakers-idUSKCN25D2CH" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">as California did in the past with auto emission standards</a>. A focus on a just and equitable transition for communities and people affected by the decline of fossil fuels will also be key to creating a sustainable transition.</p><p>The U.S. position as the world's largest oil and gas producer and consumer creates political challenges for any administration. U.S. forays into European energy security are often treated with suspicion. Recently, France blocked <a href="https://www.wsj.com/articles/frances-engie-backs-out-of-u-s-lng-deal-11604435609" target="_blank">a multi-billion dollar contract</a> to buy U.S. liquefied natural gas because of concerns about limited emissions regulations in Texas.</p><p>Strengthening cooperation and partnerships with like-minded countries will be critical to bring about a transition to cleaner energy as well as sustainability in agriculture, forestry, water and other sectors of the global economy.</p>
Creating a Global Sustainable Transition<p>How the world recovers from COVID-19's economic damage could help drive a lasting shift in the global energy mix.</p><p>Nearly one-third of Europe's US$2 trillion economic relief package <a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-07-21/eu-approves-biggest-green-stimulus-in-history-with-572-billion-plan" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">involves investments that are also good for the climate</a>. The European Union is also strengthening its 2030 climate targets, though each country's energy and climate plans will be critical for successfully implementing them. The <a href="https://joebiden.com/clean-energy/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Biden plan</a> – including a $2 trillion commitment to developing sustainable energy and infrastructure – is aligned with a global energy transition, but its implementation is also uncertain.</p><p>Once Biden takes office, Kerry will be joining ongoing <a href="https://www.un.org/en/conferences/energy2021/about#:%7E:text=The%20overarching%20goal%20of%20the,2030%20Agenda%20for%20Sustainable%20Development.&text=Accelerate%20delivery%20of%20United%20Nations,related%20issues%20at%20all%20levels." target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">high-level discussions on the energy transition</a> at the U.N. General Assembly and other gatherings of international leaders. With the U.S. no longer obstructing work on climate issues, the G-7 and G-20 have more potential for progress on energy and climate.</p><p>Lots of technical details still need to be worked out, including international trade frameworks and standards that can help countries lower greenhouse gas emissions enough to keep global warming in check. <a href="https://www.carbonpricingleadership.org/what" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Carbon pricing</a> and <a href="https://www.csis.org/analysis/how-can-europe-get-carbon-border-adjustment-right" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">carbon border adjustment taxes</a>, which create incentive for companies to reduce emissions, may be part of it. A consistent and comprehensive set of national energy transition plans will also be needed.</p><p>The global shift to <a href="https://www.irena.org/publications/2019/Jan/A-New-World-The-Geopolitics-of-the-Energy-Transformation" target="_blank">clean energy will also have geopolitical implications for countries and regions</a>, and this will have a profound impact on wider international relations. Kerry, with his experience as secretary of state in the Obama administration, and Biden's plan to make the climate envoy position part of the National Security Council, may help mend these relations. In doing so, the U.S. may again join the wider community of countries willing to lead.</p>
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By Maria Caffrey
As we approach the holidays I, like most people, have been reflecting on everything 2020 has given us (or taken away) while starting to look ahead to 2021.
We Need More Than Listening<p>By now we have all become sadly accustomed to the current administration sidelining scientists, most prominently Dr. Anthony Fauci, because the facts they provide do not fit with the political rhetoric of the moment.</p><p>I have <a href="https://www.csldf.org/2019/08/22/csldf-helps-climate-scientist-maria-caffrey-fight-for-scientific-integrity/" target="_blank">my own history</a> of filing a scientific integrity complaint with the National Park Service (which falls under the Department of the Interior) after senior ranking employees attempted to censor one of my scientific reports. I know all too well the damage and pain that these actions cause, not just for the individual scientist, but also because these <a href="https://www.ucsusa.org/resources/attacks-on-science" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">attacks on science</a> over the last few years have undermined sound, evidence-based decision making.</p><p>President-elect Biden has repeatedly said that he will <a href="https://thehill.com/homenews/521638-trump-biden-will-listen-to-the-scientists-if-elected" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">listen to the scientists</a>. While this is certainly a welcome change, listening can only take us so far. This past week Lauren Kurtz from the <a href="https://www.csldf.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Climate Science Legal Defense Fund</a> and my colleague <a href="https://www.ucsusa.org/about/people/gretchen-goldman" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Gretchen Goldman</a> published <a href="https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/ten-steps-that-can-restore-scientific-integrity-in-government/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">an article</a> listing 10 actions the new administration should implement to show their commitment to strengthening government science:</p><ol><li>Clearly prohibit political interference and censorship.</li><li>Protect scientists' communication rights.</li><li>Acknowledge that attempts to violate scientific integrity, even if ultimately not fruitful, are still violations.</li><li>Protect federal scientists' right to provide information to Congress and other lawmakers.</li><li>Commit to incorporating the best science as part of agency decisions.</li><li>Elevate agency scientific integrity policies to have the full force of law.</li><li>Publicly release anonymized information about scientific integrity complaints and their resolutions at every agency.</li><li>Institute an intra-agency workforce, potentially under the White House <a href="https://www.ucsusa.org/sites/default/files/2020-09/strengthening-science-and-si-at-ostp.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Office of Science and Technology Policy</a>, to coordinate scientific integrity efforts across agencies, foster discussion of policy improvements, and standardize criteria for policies across agencies.</li><li>Strengthen whistleblower protections.</li><li>Ensure that policies cover all actors who will be dealing with science.</li></ol>
Time for Action<p>I have spoken to many scientists, particularly federal scientists, who are eager to turn the page so they can hurry back to the work they had been doing before this administration, but I urge caution in assuming that things can be "normal" again.</p><p>Before Trump, I naively thought the scientific integrity policies established during the <a href="https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/blog/2016/12/19/scientific-integrity-policies-update" target="_blank">Obama administration</a> would be sufficient. I never imagined that any administration could so willfully ignore and attack expert advice and evidence that is intended to protect us and our public lands.</p><p>I have personally witnessed how hard our federal scientists work. They put in long hours with minimal pay (far less that what they could get if they worked in private industry) to pursue one simple goal: to make things better for the nation.</p><p>We need stronger scientific integrity policies to protect these people and their work. But more than that, we need stronger scientific integrity laws because they also benefit society.</p>
By Andrea Germanos
Environmental campaigners stressed the need for the incoming Biden White House to put in place permanent protections for Alaska's Bristol Bay after the Trump administration on Wednesday denied a permit for the proposed Pebble Mine that threatened "lasting harm to this phenomenally productive ecosystem" and death to the area's Indigenous culture.
<div id="da98c" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="478a197b7c59c92787c92bec92f1ac39"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1331662923710693376" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Bristol Bay forever, Pebble mine never. #NoPebbleMine #SaveBristolBay https://t.co/CBQ9zuy8A5</div> — Save Bristol Bay (@Save Bristol Bay)<a href="https://twitter.com/SaveBristolBay/statuses/1331662923710693376">1606328156.0</a></blockquote></div>
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By Gwen Ranniger
In the midst of a pandemic, sales of cleaning products have skyrocketed, and many feel a need to clean more often. Knowing what to look for when purchasing cleaning supplies can help prevent unwanted and dangerous toxics from entering your home.