Dehydration or Disease?Dehydration, and the importance of drinking water, have always been popular topics in health circles. The general consensus is that the minimum water requirement for the average individual is 1.5 litres of water per day, in order to maintain smooth body functioning. Others argue that we get enough water through our diet, and that supplementing this intake is superfluous.
The fact is that our body loses a significant amount of water everyday through sweating, breathing, digesting, bowel movement and passing water. Research indicates that a normal healthy body loses up to 2.5 litres of water -through the functions above- in average temperatures, during normal daily activities. Exercise triggers a more considerable fluid loss.
Until recently, we've underestimated the danger of- even mild- dehydration. When you realise that all bodily functions depend on water, you appreciate the importance of supplementing your water intake to ensure effective rehydration of the body and organs for proper functioning.
If your body is not sufficiently hydrated, the cells will draw water from your bloodstream, which will make your heart work harder. At the same time, the kidneys cannot purify blood effectively. When this happens, some of the kidney's workload is passed on to the liver and other organs, which may cause them to be severely stressed. Additionally, you may develop a number of minor health conditions such as constipation, dry and itchy skin, acne, nosebleeds, urinary tract infection, coughs, sneezing, sinus pressure, and headaches.
The late Dr F. Batmanghelidj, M.D, who dedicated his life to researching the effects of dehydration, and the correlation between dehydration and disease, made an interesting discovery.
He realised that the biggest seller for drug companies was a class of chemicals, which are strong antihistamines. Most strong pain medications contain antihistamines.
"I discovered that histamine is a vital chemical messenger in the brain. Histamine has a most important function not written about in medical textbooks. It is in charge of water intake and drought management in the body. It is less active when the body is fully hydrated, and becomes increasingly active when the body becomes dehydrated. In short, histamine produces pain when an area in the body is suffering from drought!"
He goes on to add: "My research revealed that unintentional dehydration produces stress, chronic pains and many degenerative diseases. Dry mouth is not the only sign of dehydration and waiting to get thirsty is wrong".
This discovery drove Dr Batmanghelidj to successfully experiment with curing his patients with water.
In his book "Your Body's Many Cries for Water" he reiterates the importance of continuously rehydrating the body to cure and prevent disease. He describes fascinating case studies where he successfully cured patients suffering from various diseases with a simple water-drinking regime.
Dehydration, The Silent KillerThe human body cannot survive beyond 6 days without water. Symptoms of dehydration often occur within 3 days of diarrhoea or vomiting, when the body is not adequately supplemented with water. Dehydration is especially fatal in hot climates. It's hard to believe that in our day and age, it is still responsible for killing millions every year in the developing world. As usual, the easiest victims are the vulnerable infants, children and the elderly.
Early symptoms of dehydration usually include hangover-like headaches, blurred vision, lowered blood pressure, and dizziness or fainting when standing up. Untreated dehydration generally results in delirium, unconsciousness and death.
Dehydration symptoms become noticeable soon after 2% of the body's normal water volume has been lost. The first symptoms are thirst and discomfort, along with loss of appetite and an increasingly dry skin. Athletes may suffer up to 50% loss of performance, and experience flushing, low endurance, rapid heart rates, elevated body temperatures, and rapid onset of fatigue.
The symptoms become increasingly severe with greater water loss. The heart and breathing rates increase to compensate for decreased plasma volume and blood pressure, while body temperature may rise because of decreased sweating. Around 5% to 6% water loss, causes grogginess or sleepiness, headaches and nausea. Over 10% fluid loss triggers muscle spasms, the skin shrivels and sags, vision blurs, urination is greatly reduced and painful, and delirium begins.
Body fluid losses greater than 15% are usually fatal.
Ethical concerns over death by dehydration
- The mouth would dry out and become caked or coated with thick material.
- The lips would become parched and cracked.
- The tongue would swell, and might crack.
- The eyes would recede back into their orbits and the cheeks would become hollow.
- The lining of the nose might crack and cause the nose to bleed. The skin would hang loose on the body and become dry and scaly.
- The urine would become highly concentrated, leading to burning of the bladder.
- The lining of the stomach would dry out and the sufferer would experience dry heaves and vomiting.
- The body temperature would become very high.
- The brain cells would dry out, causing convulsions.
- The respiratory tract would dry out, and the thick secretions that would result could plug the lungs and cause death.
- At some point within five days to three weeks, the major organs, including the lungs, heart, and brain, would give out and the patient would die.