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Dehydration: Axia College SCI 241 Dehydration: How does it affect the Body? Primarily, water is essential to health maintenance because water is a imperative nutrient within the body. Water is needed for the body to carry out its many functions. The body consists of mainly water, which is why once our bodies are depleted of water, it is unfavorable for our health. Water moves inside the body by osmosis that carries up or down a concentration gradient, which is dependent on where the water is needed and where there needs to be a reduction if there is an too high of an amount of water.

Water also helps aid with the function of many systems in body such as the digestive system, the lymphatic system, and the nervous system. In addition, water, in its many forms contributes to a number of functions in the human body. For instance, water is basically saliva that is used in the mouth and in the blood, which is comprised mostly of water, it “? ows through our bodies, delivering oxygen and nutrients to cells and returning waste products to the lungs and kidneys for excretion” (Grosvenor and Smolin, 2006, p. 283).

Water also aids the body by producing sweat and “[regulating] body temperature by increasing or decreasing the amount of heat lost at the surface of the body” (Grosvenor and Smolin, 2006, p. 283). Sweat cools the body by producing water to lose heat in the body. Water also aids in digestive and excretory functioning. We lose a lot of water through the digestive system because it aids in breaking down the foods we eat and we lose a lot of water through urine and feces. Furthermore, when the body does not get the water it needs, it dehydrates.

Dehydration can occur through sweating when someone is exercising and they have lost too much water. Dehydration leads to fatigue, vomiting, and feeling ill. Severe dehydration is a dangerous situation that can threaten one’s health. When people are severely dehydrated, they should seek immediate medical attention because dehydration can make the body go into shock and eventually lead to a fatality. The fatality would most likely be due to heart failure, because the heart is an important organ that needs water to survive, just like the rest of the body.

Inadequate water also affects the heart because a lack of water increases the blood volume and the blood becomes dense, which places stress on the functioning of the heart. The pressure on the heart affects the supply of nutrients and oxygen that are transported to the cells in the body to perform their daily functions. Besides heart failure, water depletion creates many health problems such as hypertension, heart disease, asthma, pain in the joints and muscles, back pain, migraine headaches, and diabetes.

These illnesses would occur because a lack of water causes a disruption in cell functions in the body. Also, dehydration affects our energy levels and how much we are able to grasp the processes that are occurring in our brain. Without sufficient amounts of water, we are unable to focus and will experience a collapse in concentration and judgment. Different electrolytes such as sodium, potassium, and chloride are similar because they provide different important functions for the body.

Sodium and potassium ions are nerve conductors that help stimulate muscle contractions by generating electrical charges across the nerve cell membrane. Sodium is a positive ion located outside the cell membrane. Sodium travels back and forth entering and exiting cells, regulating water in the body. Sodium aids by generating electrical currents to parts of the brain, nerves, and muscles. Potassium is another positive ion, but unlike sodium, it is located inside cell membrane. Potassium helps in body functioning by monitoring the heart and aiding muscle functioning.

Chloride is negatively charged particle known as an anion, which is located within cells. Chloride generally combines with other elements to create different products. For instance, chloride combines with sodium to create NaCl, also known as table salt. Too much salt has been indicated as major contributor to high blood pressure, also known as hypertension. The electrolytes sodium, potassium, and chloride, are all different because depletion or an excessive amount lead to different diseases or malfunctions in the body.

According to Grosvenor and Smolin (2006), sodium, chloride, and potassium depletion can occur with heavy and persistent sweating, chronic diarrhea or vomiting, and kidney disorders that lead to excessive excretion. For instance, sodium inadequacy can lead to problems in cell function and potassium imbalances lead to irregularities in heart activity and impairment of the nervous system. Low or high levels of chloride can also produce nausea and kidney disease. Moreover, there are a plethora of foods and drinks that can affect hydration levels in the body.

Two liquids that affect hydration levels are alcohol and caffeine. The consumption of both caffeine and alcohol promotes water loss in the body. In caffeinated beverages, high doses of caffeine create water loss “partly to increased blood flow to the kidneys and partly to reduced reabsorption of sodium by the body” (Hamilton, n. d). Also, alcohol reduces hydration “by depressing production of the antidiuretic hormone called vasopressin, which acts on the kidneys, concentrating the urine by promoting the reabsorption of water and salt into the body (Hamilton, n. ). Hamilton (n. d) suggests that Vasopressin aids in fluid stability within the body and an interruption in its function leads to decreased urine levels, which may be a contributor to dehydration in the body. Consequentially, water loss that is produced by alcohol may also contribute to the loss of other essential nutrients and minerals that are used for nerve and muscle sustainment. To avoid dehydration from alcohol and caffeine, more water should be consumed that will balance the amounts of alcohol or caffeine with the amount of water that is in the body.

Ultimately, to avoid dehydration, people need to make sure that enough water is consumed as a daily part of their diet. It is easy to lose water from sweating or urinating too much, but replenishing water loss is vital for water balance in the body. A popular recommendation for getting enough water in the diet is to consume at least 8 glasses of water every day. Also, it is important for people to drink plenty of water if they are doing strenuous activity or exercising in extreme weather conditions. Also, we have to make sure that we are dressed appropriately for the weather.

For instance, in summer, to avoid dehydration in extreme heat, we have to wear loose fitting clothes. Also, it is best to avoid the sun as much as possible if it is hot, but if someone does decide to stay outside in the heat, it is best to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. In essence, water is the fabric of life. It is given to us in plentiful amounts, but it should not be wasted. It is 60% of the human body and without it, we would cease to exist. The best method to make health an utmost priority is to consume the recommended amount of water and eat a healthy and nutritious diet that will compliment a healthy lifestyle.

Water is not a gift, it is a right. Remember to drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration and to give the body the most important nutrient that it needs for survival.


  1. Grosvenor, M. B. , & Smolin, L. A. (2006). Nutrition: Everyday choices. New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Hamilton, A. (n. d). Caffeine dehydration: Caffeine and alcohol – just how dehydrating are they? Retrieved December 7, 2008 from http://www. pponline. co. uk/encyc/caffeine-dehydration. htm

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