Why is dehydration so detrimental to your health?

And how does it affect your spine?

So, you have finally made the decision that “it is time to take care of myself”. You have started working out, you have improved your nutritional intake, you are focusing on sleep, stretching, and started addressing your spinal issues by visiting your chiropractor. But there might be one key component that you are missing, and that is consuming enough water and preventing dehydration. A survey in 1998 reported that approximately 75% of adult Americans were chronically dehydrated. This means that for every 4 people at your gym, only one of them is properly hydrated to be working out.

What does it mean to be dehydrated?

Dehydration means that the body has lost an excessive amount of body fluid, and the fluid that was lost has not been replenished.

Many systems in our body rely on hydration to keep functioning optimally. Proper hydration is important for the function of mucosal membranes. Mucosal membranes can be found in our digestive system, reproductive system, and respiratory system. Keeping properly hydrated maintains blood volume which directly affects the stress that is put on our heart and kidneys. Dehydration has an affect across all body systems, here are some signs to look out for to prevent dehydration:

Signs that you are dehydrated:

  1. color of urine (darker urine = increased dehydration) *see photo below
  2. decreased urination throughout the day (less than 4 times)
  3. cracked or chapped lips
  4. dry eyes or mouth
  5. fatigue/brain fog
  6. lightheadedness/dizziness
  7. headache
  8. low blood pressure with high heart rate
  9. kidney stones
water hydration, urine color chart
Figure 1- Urine Color Guide: With proper hydration the urine color should be a clear or light straw color.


Things that dehydrate the body:

  1. heat exposure
  2. sweating/ increased activity levels
  3. caffeine
  4. alcohol
  5. vomiting/diarrhea
  6. health conditions & medications

But what about the parts of the body that we can’t see when something is wrong? Specifically, our spine?

Each bone in the spine is separated by a spinal disc. Our spinal discs contain up to 85% water. When our body is chronically dehydrated the percentage of water in the disc decreases, and ultimately the function of that disc begins to fail. Our discs are very detrimental to our spinal health, they act as a cushion and protect our spine. When the spine experiences increased or abnormal stress loads from a failed disc our spine begins to degenerate causing pain and dysfunction of the nerves in that area. So how do I prevent dehydration and degeneration of my spine and spinal discs?

The first step is to keep properly hydrated using these tips and watching for the signs listed above.

The second step is to get a postural check up from one of our postural specialists. Schedule online for the next available appointment.

Tips on staying hydrated:

  1. drink water first every morning
  2. drink water last every night
  3. drink water with every meal
  4. if you increase physical activity/sweating, increase fluid/electrolyte consumption
  5. take hydration breaks, especially during long periods of heat exposure
  6. consume foods rich in electrolytes
  7. speak to your doctor if you have any medical conditions or if you are taking medications

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