7 Things That Happen to Your Body When You're Dehydrated

7 Things That Happen to Your Body When You're Dehydrated

Water is the essence... of life! Water plays an essential role in just about every bodily function, from regulating body temperature to carrying nutrients to your cells. So when you’re not getting enough fluids on a daily basis, it can have some serious consequences. Thankfully, proper hydration is one of the most accessible wellness habits you can adopt—even while traveling. Yes, it can sometimes feel easier said than done to drink the recommended amount of H2O, but it's definitely worth the effort.

How Dehydration Impacts Your Body

Severe dehydration can lead to health issues such as kidney problems, low blood volume, and life-threatening heat sickness.1 It can even make you more susceptible to UTIs and colds. Even mild dehydration can do a number on your general sense of wellbeing. When you’re dehydrated, your body can’t do its job optimally, and that can leave you feeling subpar. 

If you need inspiration to stay on top of your fluid intake—especially as the weather gets hotter—here are a few key ways dehydration can affect your body:

1. Brainpower

Dealing with brain fog? Dehydration could be the culprit—even a 1% body water loss can impair cognitive function.2 So if you’ve been feeling foggier than usual lately, reach for your water bottle. Research suggests sipping just 500mL (around 16 ounces) is enough to help restore your mood and memory.3 

2. Digestion

Water plays a key role in digestion—it helps your body break down food more quickly and softens stool so it’s easier to pass. When you’re not getting enough fluids, it can slow digestion and lead to uncomfortable constipation.4 

3. Energy levels

If you’ve been feeling sluggish, pay attention to your water intake. Water is essential for delivering nutrients and oxygen to your cells, so when you’re dehydrated, it can leave you feeling drained.5

Dehydration can also have a negative impact on your performance during a workout—research suggests a 3% loss of body water can impair your strength and muscular endurance.6 

4. Skin health 

Your skin can offer early clues that you’re not getting enough water. When you’re dehydrated, you may notice your skin doesn’t have its usual glow. That’s because water helps moisturize your skin from within. When you’re not getting enough, you may see more visible fine lines, changes in your skin elasticity, and bags under the eyes.7

To figure out if your skin is dehydrated, gently pinch the skin on your arm. If it doesn’t bounce back within a second or two, it’s probably time to sip some water. 

5. Fertility 

If you’re currently TTC, staying hydrated is a simple step you can take to support your reproductive health. Hydration is essential for maintaining the quality of cervical mucus and proper blood flow to the uterus, both of which play a role in conception and healthy pregnancy. And make sure your partner is sipping along with you, because dehydration can impact sperm quality and motility.8 

After you’ve successfully conceived, hydration helps to support important changes to your body during pregnancy, including the increase in blood volume and maintaining amniotic fluid levels.9 

6. Electrolyte balance

There’s a reason sports drinks and hydration tablets contain electrolytes. Electrolytes like sodium, potassium, and magnesium support the function of your heart, nerves, and muscles. Even mild dehydration can throw off the balance of electrolytes in your body, which can lead to unpleasant symptoms like headaches, fatigue, irritability, muscle cramps, or heart palpitations.10 

If you’re dealing with morning sickness, it’s easier to get dehydrated—and an electrolyte balance can make you feel even worse than you already do. Our 1st Trimester Prenatal Vitamin Powder is made to be sipped in a drink (for those days when you can’t even imagine swallowing a pill) and delivers electrolytes to help replenish your stores. 

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7. Heart health 

Water is crucial for maintaining healthy blood volume. When you’re dehydrated, decreased blood volume can lead to a dip in blood pressure, which may leave you feeling lightheaded.11 Dehydration also thickens your blood, meaning your heart has to work harder to maintain circulation.12 And in the long term, research suggests healthy hydration habits may help reduce your rick of developing heart failure.13 Bottom line? Staying hydrated helps your heart do its job as effectively as possible.

To fight dehydration, aim to get around 64 ounces of fluid each day.14 (Keep in mind you also get fluid from the foods you eat, so don’t panic if you fall a little short of that half-gallon goal.) If you’re pregnant, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends upping it to 8 to 12 glasses per day—and be sure to replenish any fluids lost to morning sickness or a sweaty workout.15 Postpartum women will also want to be mindful of their hydration: Breastfeeding mothers can lose up to 25 ounces of water per day through breast milk, and dehydration can negatively impact maternal health and may make it difficult to produce enough breast milk.16

Bottoms up!


  1. Mayo Clinic: Dehydration
  2. Shaun K Riebl et al; The Hydration Equation: Update on Water Balance and Cognitive Performance; Nov 2013
  3. Jianfen Zhang et al; Different Amounts of Water Supplementation Improved Cognitive Performance and Mood among Young Adults after 12 h Water Restriction in Baoding, China: A Randomized Controlled Trial (RCT); Oct 2020
  4. Center for Digestive Health: The Benefits of Water for Digestion 
  5. Harvard Health Publishing: Fight Fatigue With Fluids 
  6. Oliver R Barley et al; Acute Dehydration Impairs Endurance Without Modulating Neuromuscular Function; Nov 2018
  7. WebMD: Signs of Poor Skin Hydration 
  8. IVF Warrior: How Hydration Impacts Fertility
  9. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists: How much water should I drink during pregnancy?
  10. Cleveland Clinic: Electrolyte Imbalance 
  11. Cleveland Clinic: The Link Between Dehydration and Blood Pressure 
  12. University of Maryland Baltimore Washington Medical Center: Staying Hydrated When You Have Heart Failure
  13. National Institutes of Health: Good hydration may reduce long-term risks for heart failure
  14. Arend-Jan Meinders and Arend E Meinders; How much water do we really need to drink?; 2010American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists:
  15. How much water should I drink during pregnancy?
  16. What to Know About Staying Hydrated While Pregnant and Breastfeeding