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Does dehydration cause muscle cramps: 8 Signs of Dehydration That You Shouldn’t Ignore


How Much Water Do You Need to Drink a Day?

Good hydration can improve your mood, sleep, and overall health and wellness. Find out if your water intake is adequate by using this simple tool.

By Kelly Kennedy, RDNMedically Reviewed by Lynn Grieger, RDN, CDCES


Medically Reviewed

It’s important to drink enough water every day, but fluid from water-rich foods will help you hit your hydration goal.Valentina Barreto /Stocksy

Calculating the amount of water you need to drink daily is more complicated than you may think. That’s because hydration needs are far from one-size-fits-all.

In general, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine suggest that each day women get a total of about 2.7 liters (L), or 11 cups, of fluid and men get about 3.7 L (16 cups). Not all of that fluid has to be water intake. Whole, nutrient-rich foods and beverages, including the following, also count toward your fluid intake:

  • Tea
  • Coffee
  • Sparkling water
  • Kombucha
  • Coconut water

On the other hand, alcohol is dehydrating and does not count as fluid. Soda counts but is not a healthy choice.

RELATED: 13 Genius Hacks That Will Help You Stay Hydrated

Find Out How Much Water You Need to Drink per Day

To give yourself a better sense of how much water you need to drink each day, use this hydration calculator.


What Factors Affect Fluid Needs?

Various factors can increase or decrease the amount of fluid your body needs to function at its best.

Birth Sex

Compared with people born female, those born male generally need more fluid to support their increased body mass, lower average body fat, and increased calorie burn each day.

Body Weight

Hydration needs are influenced by the surface area of the body, metabolic rate, and body weight, per a paper published in the July 2016 Annals of Family Medicine. As a result, as body weight increases, fluid needs increase as well, notes the University of Missouri System.

Life Stage

Similarly, when someone is pregnant, they require additional fluids to maintain amniotic fluid levels and keep the baby growing steadily, as PennState discusses. If you’re nursing a growing baby, you’ll need to drink more fluids so that your body can make enough milk, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Diet Quality

As the Mayo Clinic points out, the foods you eat will also affect your hydration and the amount of fluid you’ll need to drink. For example, if you get ample fruits and veggies each day (both of which are packed with hydrating fluid), you won’t need to gulp down as much water.

Soup is another food that is fluid-rich and can help you meet your target water intake.

If you eat a lot of these foods each day, you won’t need to drink quite as much. But if your fruit and vegetable intake is low on any given day, a few extra glasses of water will compensate for the fluid you’ll miss.

Activity Level

When you sweat during exercise or on a hot summer day, you’ll need to replace the fluids you’ve lost by drinking more H2O. As the American College of Sports Medicine points out, the intensity and duration of exercise affects how much you sweat and your subsequent fluid needs. According to a study published in Sports Medicine in March 2017, genetics and how accustomed you are to a given climate can also influence sweat volume.

Unfortunately, calculating exact hydration losses from physical activity is complicated, because people sweat at drastically different rates, according to the American College of Sports Medicine. In other words, even in the exact same conditions, two people of the same gender, weight, and with similar diets will sweat differently — and thus need different amounts of fluid.

RELATED: 6 Unusual Signs of Dehydration

The Importance of Staying Hydrated

While water intake needs vary, one thing is for sure: Meeting your personal hydration needs each day will have a tremendous benefit to your health.

Indeed, as the Harvard School of Public Health points out, good hydration keeps the body functioning properly, lubricates joints, and regulates body temperature. The university also notes that good hydration helps you sleep better, think more clearly, and even puts you in a better mood!

One Last Thing: Don’t Flood Your System All at Once

Drinking water gradually throughout the day is important. Too much water at one time may increase the risk of a condition called hyponatremia, which occurs when the electrolytes in the body become depleted. As the Mayo Clinic states, hyponatremia may be life-threatening.

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Certain foods provide another way to ensure you consume enough H2O.

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In general, fresh, whole foods tend to contain more water than those that are processed or come in a package.

You’ve no doubt heard the advice to drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water each day. But do you know where that advice for avoiding dehydration comes from, and if you should still follow it?

Sean Hashmi, MD, the physician director of weight management and clinical nutrition for Kaiser Permanente in Southern California, says it dates to a 1945 recommendation from the U.S. Food and Nutrition Board. “But people misread the statement,” says Dr. Hashmi, adding that some of the water you get comes from food.

You do need to drink water during the day to avoid health risks. According to an article in the January 2019 issue of Nutrients, proper hydration is important for maintaining cognition, reducing the risk of kidney stones, and managing weight. A study published in January 2023 in eBioMedicine found that people who stayed properly hydrated were healthier, developed fewer chronic conditions (such as heart disease), and lived longer overall than those who were not properly hydrated.

So what does it mean to be properly hydrated? A 2005 publication by the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine (formerly the Institute of Medicine, or IOM) suggested that women who consume about 2. 7 liters of water per day and men who consume about 3.7 liters per day (as fluid and from food) are considered properly hydrated.

The exact amount you need also depends on factors such as age, gender, activity level, pregnancy, and breastfeeding status, says Rachel Lustgarten, a registered dietitian in New York City.

The good news for those who have a hard time sipping H2O all day: The foods you eat play a big role in hydration. The National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine report noted that about 19 percent of the total water consumed per day comes from food. Shreela Sharma, PhD, RD, a professor of epidemiology at UTHealth School of Public Health in Houston, estimates that about 20 percent of the body’s hydration needs are met by food. “These foods are not just hydrating but also nutritious and provide various nutrients, including vitamins and fiber,” she says.

Another plus: You don’t have to overthink it. “If you are eating a diet rich in fruit and vegetables, this should not be hard,” says Julie Devinsky, RD, who is in private practice in New York City and is an outpatient nutritionist at New York Presbyterian’s Digestive Disease Clinic. To hit the mark, you can follow tried-and-true nutrition advice by aiming for two to three servings of fruit and five or more servings of veggies daily.

That said, some foods are more hydrating than others. “Foods that rehydrate are typically the ones that hold the most water,” says Garth Graham, MD, MPH, a cardiologist in Hartford, Connecticut, and the director and global head of healthcare and public health partnerships for YouTube and Google Health.

Just keep in mind that the fruit or veggie will lose water if it’s cooked. “To optimize the hydration aspect of these foods, it’s best to eat them raw or minimally cooked,” Devinsky says. And for the best, most hydrating effect, enjoy these foods with a glass of water. “As much as it is important to eat your daily dose of fruit and vegetables, don’t use it as an excuse to skimp on water,” she adds.

Here are eight of the most hydrating foods and some ideas for how to enjoy them.


Eat Cucumbers Instead of Chips for a Hydrating Snack

Dejan Beokovic/Stocksy

Devinsky says cucumber, which is 95 percent water, is one of the most hydrating options available. The green veggie isn’t just a salad topper. Dr. Sharma suggests getting creative about incorporating cucumbers into your diet. For instance, try cucumber slices with dip or hummus in place of chips or a chilled cucumber soup for a refreshing summer appetizer. Be sure to keep the skin on to reap the most vitamins and minerals.



Dip Celery Sticks Into Creamy Peanut Butter to Up Your Water Intake

Gabriel Bucataru/Stocksy

There’s not much to them. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), celery is low in calories (less than 15 in one cup) and other vitamins and minerals, but it’s very hydrating — it consists primarily of water! Celery sticks can be boring to eat on their own, but you can make them more substantial. Devinsky suggests filling them with peanut butter or tuna salad for a low-carb alternative to bread.


Watermelon Is the Perfect Addition to a Summer Salad

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The refreshing summertime fruit has water built into its name, and that’s no coincidence.  Watermelon is high in water and low in calories (just 46 calories per cup), according to the USDA. It’s a welcome addition to many summer dishes and works well in gazpacho and fruit salads. Devinsky says watermelon also plays nicely in an arugula and mint salad.


Cantaloupe Offers Hydrating Potassium and Is Also Great in a Fruit Salad

Adobe Stock

Although watermelon is the most obvious hydrating melon, don’t overlook other smart choices, such as cantaloupe, Sharma says. Per the USDA, a 1 cup serving of cantaloupe packs 427 milligrams (mg) of potassium, making it a decent source of the nutrient. Potassium is important for hydration — it’s an electrolyte, which means it helps the body balance its water content, according to MedlinePlus. You can eat cantaloupe solo or in a fruit salad, add it to smoothies, or pair it with prosciutto for a sweet and savory snack, Devinsky says.


Strawberries Contain a Surprising Amount of Water

Adobe Stock

The sweet, red fruit is an excellent source of vitamin C, with nearly 100 mg in 1 cup of slices, according to the USDA. That’s not all: Strawberries are also incredibly hydrating and clock in at 91 percent water, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Devinsky suggests getting your fix by serving a strawberry and basil salad. Or try dipping pieces of the fruit in melted chocolate or adding to chia seed pudding for a nutritious dessert.


Trade Your Bread Bun for Iceberg Lettuce to Increase Your Water Intake

Bartosz Luczak/iStock

All types of lettuce (and other greens like kale and spinach) have high water content, but iceberg lettuce is voted most hydrating, at 95 percent water by weight, according to the Cleveland Clinic. The most obvious way to enjoy it is chopped in a salad, but you can also use it in place of a bun on your next burger, Devinsky suggests.


Tomatoes, No Matter How You Enjoy Them, Are Also Hydrating

Ron Levine/Getty Images

Tomatoes boast about 94 percent water content, according to UT Southwestern Medical Center. And, like cantaloupe, they’re a source of potassium, with 292 mg in one medium tomato, per the National Institutes of Health. Happily, they’re as versatile as they are delicious. You can enjoy them in pasta sauce, stew, fresh salsa, gazpacho, or simply sliced and sprinkled with salt and pepper.


Bell Peppers Are a Low-Carb Hydrating Food

Adobe Stock

Bell peppers are also about 92 percent water, according to UT Southwestern Medical Center. Use diced bell peppers to add crunch to salads and salsas or large slices as an alternative to chips for scooping hummus or dip, Devinsky says. Stuffed peppers are also a great entrée option, though keep in mind they’ll lose some of their hydrating benefits during their time in the oven.

An endocrinologist revealed the unpleasant consequences of a banal unwillingness to drink

. What causes unwillingness to drink enough water and what is the norm

Endocrinologist Zukhra Pavlova called the cause of muscle cramps a lack of water in the body become dehydration of the body, said an endocrinologist, doctor of medical sciences, a teacher at the Faculty of Fundamental Medicine of Moscow State University named after M. V. Lomonosov Zukhra Pavlova. She called water the most important medicine, thanks to which a person feels good. You need to drink a volume per day at the rate of 30 ml per 1 kg of weight. That is, a person weighing 66 kg should consume about 2 liters of water daily.

With a deficiency of this fluid in the body, problems begin, the first sign of which is dry mouth. The doctor listed other troubles arising from dehydration.


According to Pavlova, it is edema that becomes the first thing that the body “presents” to a person for dehydration.

“This is how he stores those small milliliters that you give him. If there is enough water, then swelling even in summer does not threaten you. It is important to understand that we are talking about those edema that happen from time to time. If they torment you constantly, it means that the cardiovascular, urinary or endocrine systems are not in order.


Nocturnal and daytime calf cramps

Water is essential for good conduction of nerve impulses in the muscles. If it is not enough, then the impulses go astray and cause involuntary convulsions.

Unpleasant dry eyes

With normal water intake, Zukhra Pavlova explained, the mucous membranes are always well hydrated. But if there is not enough water, then there is a feeling of dryness not only in the eyes, but also in the nose and throat.

Heaviness in the head

With a lack of water in the body, the head may begin to ache. The endocrinologist advised me to try to drink a glass of water if such a sensation occurs, and this often solves the problem of an aching head.

Creaking in the joints

As the doctor explained, the joint capsule is filled with a special fluid. If there is little water in the body, then the bag “dries out” and the joints begin to rub against each other and creak.

Remarkably: intervertebral discs are also almost 80% water, the doctor noted.

False hunger


Often thirst becomes the cause of false hunger. If after hours you want to eat, and the allotted time has not passed before eating, then water will become an assistant.

As Alexander Lavrishchev, a therapist and leading specialist of the Semeynaya clinic network, told RBC Life earlier, sometimes water can be harmful. If you drink it excessively.

In medicine, this is called hyponatremia – low sodium in the blood. It occurs when excess water is excreted by the kidneys along with sodium, which disrupts the constancy of the internal environment of the body, in particular the balance of extra- and intracellular fluids. Then water from the bloodstream enters the tissues and the cells “burst” from a large amount of moisture. Result: from headache and nausea to confusion and convulsions.

In addition, according to the doctor, there are a number of medical conditions in which a large amount of water is contraindicated:

  • diseases of the heart and kidneys;
  • diabetes insipidus;
  • electrolyte imbalance.


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Elena Kolesova

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Where do cramps come from and what to do with them



June 8, 2018

Some convulsions are harmless, while others cause respiratory arrest.

What are cramps

A cramp is a sudden and most often involuntary contraction of one or more muscles. Usually he cramps his legs: the muscles of the back of the calf, as well as the front and back of the thigh, suffer. But the muscles of the arms, wrists, abdominal wall, and shoulder girdle are not immune either.

In most cases, doctors consider this condition, although painful, but harmless. Especially if the muscle spasm is one-time and does not last long. However, there are combinations of symptoms that require an urgent visit to the doctor.

But first, let’s deal with the most common causes of seizures.

Why there are cramps

Where does muscle spasm come from, science is not completely clear. Often the cause cannot be established (however, if the cramp is one-time, we don’t really try).

But there are situations that often precede a spasm. Here are seven of the most common causes of seizures.

1. Muscle strain

Often, spasms are the result of an overly energetic approach to equipment in the gym. The sprains and other microtraumas that arise during the healing process can be accompanied not only by pain (stretching), but also by muscle cramps.

2. Circulatory disorders

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a classic example. This is the scourge of those who spend too much time with a computer mouse in their hand. Due to the constant fixed and unnatural position of the wrist in the muscles, blood circulation is disturbed. The consequence of this can be both pain and muscle weakness, and convulsions.

A couple more common special cases:

  • Uncomfortable shoes . Shoes with unusually high heels, an uncomfortable last, flip flops without a back, which you have to keep on your foot, tightening your toes. The muscles become so accustomed to the unnatural tension that then, when you finally get rid of the “Spanish boot”, they cannot relax, they spasm.
  • Uncomfortable sleeping position . Stiff hands, legs, neck – all this is also a sign of circulatory disorders and can provoke cramps at night.

3. Overheating and/or dehydration

It doesn’t matter whether overheating is caused by summer heat, intense physical activity or, let’s say, high temperature due to infections. The main thing is that together with the sweat released, the body loses not only moisture, but also the electrolytes necessary for the correct transmission of nerve impulses. Muscles react to this, including cramps.

4. Mineral depletion

Lack of potassium, calcium or magnesium can prevent muscles from relaxing. And this leads to convulsions.

5. Nervous tension or neurological disorders

In these conditions, it is often difficult for the muscles to relax. You already know about the consequences.

6. Pregnancy

Leg cramps are familiar to many expectant mothers. The reasons for this are still not entirely clear to physicians.

7. Some diseases and taking certain medications

Muscle spasms often accompany diseases such as diabetes, kidney problems, and thyroid disorders. They can also be a side effect of certain medications. For example, furosemide and other diuretics, as well as drugs for the treatment of angina pectoris, osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s disease and others.

What to do about cramps

Fortunately, getting rid of a cramp is pretty easy in most cases. Here are some common first aid measures.

1. Stretch the affected muscle, give a light massage

This will help the spasmodic muscle to relax. For example, very common leg cramps can be relieved as follows: sit down, straighten your legs and pull the toe of the affected limb towards you.

2. Apply cold or hot compresses

Apply a towel or sheet with a heating element soaked in warm water to the muscle. You can take a warm bath or do a hydromassage by directing jets of water from the shower onto a spasmodic muscle.

Cold will be no less effective. Wrap an ice pack or frozen vegetables in a towel and lightly massage the muscle.

3. Take pain medication

For example, ibuprofen. It will also help relax a spasmodic muscle.

When convulsions are dangerous

Muscle spasm may be a symptom of a serious failure in the work of one or another internal organ or organism as a whole. For example, convulsions often make themselves felt cirrhosis of the liver, type I diabetes mellitus, developing neurological disorders, in particular epilepsy.

There is another danger. A spasm can affect not only the large muscles, but also the smooth muscles that make up the membranes of the internal organs. Spasm of such muscles is sometimes deadly. For example, bronchospasm can lead to respiratory arrest, and coronary artery spasm can lead to poor performance, or even cardiac arrest.

The Mayo Clinic Research Center recommends seeking medical help as soon as possible if seizures:

  1. Happen frequently – several times a day or several days in a row. This is a reason to be wary and consult a specialist.
  2. Cause severe, almost unbearable discomfort.
  3. Accompanied by swelling, redness or any other changes in the color and structure of the skin.
  4. Associated with high fever and headache.
  5. Cause severe muscle weakness.

If you do not observe any of the listed symptoms, you can exhale: most likely, the spasms do not threaten you with anything dangerous. Nevertheless, it is still worth understanding their origin. At least in order to save yourself from such painful sensations in the future.

How to treat cramps

If cramps make you uncomfortable (wake up at night or last a long time despite massage and compresses), see a therapist. To identify violations in the body, the doctor will ask you a few questions. For example:

  1. How often do you have seizures?
  2. Which muscles do they affect?
  3. Do you take any medications?
  4. How often do you drink alcohol?
  5. What is your lifestyle and exercise like?
  6. How much liquid do you drink daily?

More complete diagnosis may require blood and urine tests. With their help, the doctor will find out the level of trace elements, and will also be able to check the condition of the kidneys and thyroid gland. In some cases, electromyography is prescribed. This is a test that measures muscle activity and diagnoses existing disorders in their work.

As a result, the doctor will identify the disease, the symptom of which is convulsions, and prescribe a specific treatment.

How to prevent cramps

Given the most common causes of muscle cramps, prevention is obvious:

  1. Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.