Have you been feeling tired, dizzy, disoriented or confused lately? You could be dehydrated.
That’s right. Losing more fluids than you’re taking in, or dehydration, can affect you not only physically, including rapid heart rate, low blood pressure, constipation and fever, but also mentally.
Your brain is composed of about 75 percent water. According to an article in Psychology Today, “Brain cells require a delicate balance between water and various elements to operate, and when you lose too much water, that balance is disrupted. Your brain cells lose efficiency.”
This loss of brain cell efficiency can result in lethargy, difficulty focusing, disorganized thought processes and delusions. Dehydration can also impair your memory.
In 2010, Ohio University researchers evaluated the hydration level of a group of older women. They then tested their declarative and working memory. The women with the poorest hydration were found to have the lowest scores on the memory tests.
And driving while dehydrated can be similar to driving under the influence of alcohol, making it hard for you to focus and slowing your reaction time.
So, why are we getting dehydrated in the first place? Age can play a large role.
- As we get older, we typically lose muscle, which is composed of 75 percent water, and replace it with fat, which has a much lower water content of 10 percent.
- Our kidneys don’t conserve liquids like they used to, which compounds our body’s lower water content.
- We could also be taking medications that have a diuretic effect or cause us to urinate more frequently.
- Our sense of thirst also diminishes with age, so we’re not replacing the water we’re losing.
- We may also have a harder time getting around, so we’re not getting up to refill our glass as often or we’re deliberately restricting our water intake due to incontinence.
I must admit that working on this post made me unexplainably thirsty. Right now, I have a cold glass of H20 on the desk beside me. Hope it has the same effect on you!