Here’s a surprising dehydration fact: Roughly 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated. There’s a good chance dehydration is affecting you – and maybe you didn't even know it.
But why is dehydration so prevalent?
Well, one reason is that many of us don’t know the causes of dehydration. Of course, there are well-known causes like not drinking enough water, exercise, diarrhea, etc. But are there others?
Here are of the more surprising causes of dehydration:
- Alcohol: A cold cocktail is the perfect complement to a relaxing summertime weekend, but in excess, that margarita or mai tai actually speeds up dehydration. When we drink alcohol, we make trips to the bathroom more frequently, and in turn, we’re dehydrating ourselves. That’s a main reason that after a night of overindulgence, people suffer from hangovers; they’re severely dehydrated!
- Chronic Diseases: Several illnesses cause dehydration, and this can be a problem for people who haven’t yet been diagnosed. For instance, diabetes disruptions how the body regulates water, which makes it more difficult for diabetics to stay properly hydrated. Other conditions like Cystic Fibrosis, Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Chrohn’s disease are accompanied by symptoms like diarrhea, which speed up the loss of fluids.
- Prescription Drugs: Some medications have a diuretic effective, which means they cause more frequent bathroom trips. Thus, these drugs can actually cause or speed up dehydration. Examples include certain blood pressure and heart disease medications, as well as some drugs for kidney conditions.
- Pregnancy: Morning sickness is a common cause of dehydration during pregnancy, because during an episode of vomiting and nausea, fluids are lost so quickly. Additionally, pregnant women require more water, due to higher blood volume. Related: Women who are breastfeeding have greater fluid requirements as well.
- Age: As we age, the volume of fluid in our bodies decreases, especially after age 65. Thus, seniors might lose the same amount of water as someone younger, but dehydration can set in more quickly. Plus, the feeling of thirst isn't as pronounced for seniors, and therefore, they’re at a greater risk for not drinking enough fluids.
- Altitude: Higher altitudes put more stress on the body, i.e. we breathe more heavily and sweat more rapidly. These dehydrating effects are even more disruptive for people who aren't acclimated. So if you’re on vacation in the mountains, and you live at sea level, you’ll need to drink more water to stay hydrated.