How to tell if you aren’t drinking as much water as your body needs
Dehydration is generally easy to spot, as your body will let you know when it’s running dangerously low on water — extreme lethargy, fainting, and rising body temperature are clear warning signs. But being “under-hydrated” can be a trickier condition to spot. According to a study by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly half of Americans don’t come close to drinking enough water over the course of a day.
The easiest telltale signs are found by checking in with yourself. Start with this basic checklist:
- Pee check. This is the number one and most conclusive test: check your urine. The less color in it, the better, but a reliable comparison is that you want it to be the color of lemonade. Also, if you’re peeing less often than usual, that can be a warning sign as well
- The thirst trap. Do you find that you’re often thirsty throughout the day? Ideally, you should be drinking water regularly and avoiding the sensation of getting to the point where your mouth is dry – especially if that’s happening more than once in a day.
- Funky breath. Water is key to saliva production and also rinses away odor-causing bacteria. The less saliva you have, the more bacteria will build up on the tongue, teeth, and gums. Step one is to maintain oral hygiene through brushing and flossing, but if you continue to have chronic bad breath, it’s possible you may not be drinking enough water.
- Yawn alert. If you’re getting your proper 8 hours (and don’t suffer from sleep apnea or other sleep disorders), but still suffer from chronic fatigue, lack of hydration might be the cause.
- Check in with your skin. Skin turgor is how doctors refer to your skin’s ability to return to its resting state when pulled or pinched. Give it a try yourself. Give your cheek a little pinch and see how long it takes to settle back to its normal state. If it takes more than a second, it’s likely that you’re not ingesting enough water.
- Kidney pain. In the extreme, you might sense your kidneys aching (a potential sign of kidney stones, which most often will just have to pass through your system – a painful prospect that you’ll want to avoid). For reference, your kidneys are located just under your ribcage on the back sides of your midsection.
If you see any of the signs above, it’s probably a good idea to talk to your doctor about doing a urinalysis or a blood test to check your sodium and potassium levels. But even if you don’t see any of the indications above, it’s well worth bringing some mindfulness to your water intake, measuring how much water you drink, and seeing what happens when you increase the amount of fluid you put into your body each day.
That’s why Hint has created the “21-Day Hint Challenge.” Read on here to find out what that involves — and how you can finally crack the code on how much water to drink, PLUS what effect proper hydration can have on you.