We all know that drinking enough water is important and most of us probably try to fit in our eight glasses a day when we can. That’s a good thing because the consequences of dehydration can actually be pretty terrifying. If you don’t keep your body hydrated, you could face a range of unpleasant side effects that go way beyond chapped lips and a dry mouth.
Here are some scary things that can happen when you get dehydrated.
Dehydration can lead to rapid heartbeat or palpitations.
Harvard Medical School noted that heart palpitations can sometimes be a sign of dehydration. This symptom is linked to changes in blood pressure due to low fluid intake and low electrolyte levels, especially potassium. Heart palpitations from dehydration can feel like mild fluttering in the chest, a pounding in the neck, or even the sensation that your heart has stopped.
Your stools can become hard and look like small pellets.
Digestive care expert Brenda Watson told Redbook that stools that are hard and shaped like small pellets could signal dehydration.
When your body doesn’t have enough fluids to flush waste out, it ends up sitting in your colon for longer than it should. The colon extracts water from the stool, making it harder and more likely to come out in small pieces.
Your eyes and cheeks could appear sunken.
According to Healthline, not drinking enough water can cause your eyes and cheeks to take on a sunken appearance. This means the areas around your eyes may become dark and shadowed, with the skin appearing papery or thin-looking. This symptom is especially common in young children and babies.
Being dehydrated puts you at greater risk of urinary tract infections.
A urinary tract infection (UTI) is a painful and potentially dangerous condition where bacteria invade the bladder or urethra. According to the NHS, dehydration can make you more susceptible to developing a UTI. Though a mild infection isn’t usually a cause for alarm, UTIs can spread to the kidneys and become a much more serious medical condition.
You could feel dizzy or pass out.
Another scary side effect of dehydration is dizziness or loss of consciousness, according to the American Heart Association (AHA). Dehydration can cause blood pressure to drop, resulting in dizzy spells. Though you might think that this is a symptom of advanced dehydration, the AHA reported that the loss of just 1 to 2% of your fluid body weight can cause vertigo and fainting.
Chronic dehydration can damage your kidneys.
Your kidneys are an important part of your body’s filtration system. According to Mayo Clinic, prolonged or repeat occurrences of severe dehydration can cause kidney issues such as kidney stones and even renal failure. Though this side effect is rare, children and the elderly are more at risk of kidney damage from dehydration.
If you don’t stay hydrated while exercising, you could experience everything from cramps to deadly heatstroke.
Dehydration is a serious issue for athletes or anyone spending a prolonged period in a warm environment. According to Mayo Clinic, people who work outside or play sports are at risk of life-threatening heatstroke if they don’t take in adequate fluids.
In addition to heatstroke, becoming dehydrated in hot weather can cause muscle cramps and nausea. Though it might seem counterintuitive, humidity actually increases the likelihood of heatstroke because it interferes with the evaporation of sweat, which helps to cool the body.
Dehydration can lead to seizures.
One of the most dangerous side effects of dehydration is the potential to experience a seizure. This can happen when the body’s electrolytes are lowered or become imbalanced due to a lack of fluids.
Electrolytes like sodium and potassium are responsible for carrying electrical signals between cells. In extreme cases of dehydration, these electrical messages can become confused and a person may experience involuntary muscle contractions and even heart problems.
You could become disoriented or confused.
According to Mayo Clinic, severe dehydration can lead to mental confusion and disorientation. This might present as “brain fog” and could be as dramatic as slurred speech or extreme forgetfulness. If you or someone you know is experiencing this symptom, it’s definitely time to seek medical attention.
If you don’t take in enough fluids, your body might not produce enough blood.
In cases of severe dehydration, a person might experience something called hypovolemic shock. This is one of the most dangerous complications of dehydration and requires immediate medical care.
According to Healthline, hypovolemic shock occurs when your body isn’t able to make enough blood for your heart to pump adequate oxygen to your vital organs. It causes a drop in blood pressure and can lead to brain damage or death.
Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.