7 Surprising Side Effects of Dehydration that Will Inspire You to Drink Up

Have a mild headache you can’t seem to shake off? Maybe your skin has lost some of its luster, or your lips are feeling unusually chapped, even for winter. These are all standard signs of dehydration, a condition that occurs when you lose more fluid than you take in, thereby inhibiting your body from carrying out its normal functions at optimal capacity.

While many people understand that hydration levels directly affect how we feel and think, some of the side effects of dehydration can be hard to track back to our fluid intakes.

Here are some surprising side effects of dehydration that will remind you to make adequate hydration a daily priority.

Hydration and water

1. You’re craving sweets, and lots of them.

A lack of sufficient fluid can make it more difficult for our bodies to metabolize glycogen, a substance comprised of connected glucose molecules. Glucose is a simple sugar and a source of fuel our body takes from the carbohydrates we eat. When our ability to metabolize glycogen suffers, sugar cravings arise as a means to provide our bodies with quick sources of energy.

Doughnuts and sugar

2. Your breath is awful, no matter how many times you brush your teeth.

Dehydration stinks—literally. When the body is dehydrated, saliva production in the mouth decreases, which paves the way for excess bacteria to flourish in its absence.

3. You’re experiencing more cramps than usual while exercising.

Nothing halts a solid workout faster in its tracks than an unanticipated muscle cramp—and it turns out, sometimes these pangs can be attributed to your body failing to compensate for a lack of proper fluid. Fluids help our muscles contract and relax; they also keep our electrolyte levels in balance, which helps prevent cramps.

4. You just can’t seem to concentrate.

Recent research demonstrates that even mild dehydration can negatively compromise your cognitive abilities. Take this recent study of healthy, young women who agreed to restrict their water intake for a single day and then take a test designed to measure their cognitive flexibility. Mild dehydration caused deficits in their visual and working memory. Furthermore, drinking water reversed those deficits.

Concentration Studying

5. You’re dizzy.

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), dehydration can cause your blood pressure to plummet, which could result in dizzy spells or feelings of light-headedness.

6. You suddenly have a bad case of the chills.

Dehydration will trigger your body to limit blood flow to your skin, which will in turn cause you to feel super chilly, even if you’re in a warm environment. What’s more, water is able to absorb heat, so if you’re taking in less water, your body is less capable of regulating its temperature.

woman shivering

7. You’re constipated.

It’s not glamorous, but hydration plays a critical role in the human body’s ability to flush waste from its system. Constipation occurs when the stool in your colon gets dehydrated, thereby inhibiting your body’s ability to move things along, as it were. The more water you drink, the easier it is for your colon to withdraw water from your large intestine and keep digestion regulated.

Related at Care2

Photos via Getty Images


Maria P
Maria P1 days ago

thank you for sharing

Berenice Guedes
Berenice Guedes6 days ago

Thanks for these informations! Very interesting!

Jetana A
Jetana A11 days ago

Useful information, thanks

Lindsay K
Lindsay K11 days ago

Many thanks for sharing. Very helpful advice!

Alexandra Richards

Thank you.

Dr. Jan H
Dr. Jan H11 days ago

very interesting article

Christine Stewart
Christine S12 days ago


Diane W
Past Member 13 days ago


Val P
Val P13 days ago


Colin Clauscen
Colin C13 days ago

Yes you gotta keep those fluids up.