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Wellness

Winter Dehydration: Symptoms and Overview

4 Mins read

Winter dehydration is a common problem because many people crave less water in the colder months, and therefore drink less water in the winter. While it’s common to crave water in the sweltering summer months, many people are less thirsty in the winter and forget to drink water for this reason. 

Because we sweat less in colder weather, we don’t get the same cues to replenish our fluids. With or without sweat, however, your body still loses moisture in the winter, and your body still needs plenty of hydration in winter.

It’s important to remind yourself to drink plenty of water in the winter to avoid winter dehydration. Drink water even if you’re not thirsty. Grab a glass of water even if you’re chilly and you don’t really want to drink it.

During the summer, you likely don’t have to remind yourself to drink water (because you crave it more in the summer.). In the winter it’s a different story, as you’ll have to be cognizant of how much water you’re drinking.

No matter what season it is, you should be drinking at least 8 glasses of water each day, and more if you can. 8 glasses of water is about 64 ounces of water, but try to drink 100 ounces of water per day if you can.

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What Exactly is Winter Dehydration?

Winter dehydration occurs when your body isn’t hydrated enough to function properly because you’re forgetting to refill your water glass due to craving less water. Winter dehydration can cause brain fog, fatigue, dry skin, dry eyes, sugar cravings, headaches and more.

The treatment for winter dehydration is simple: Drink more water (and aim to drink 64 – 100 ounces of water per day). Below, we’ll review some of the symptoms of winter dehydration in more detail, so that you understand how important it is to remember to drink water.

Fatigue

One of the reasons why people are so tired in the winter is because they’re forgetting to drink enough water. Your body needs hydration to function properly, and that’s why you have less energy when you’re less hydrated. Healthy food, lots of water, and plenty of electrolytes will all help you have more energy.

Dry Skin

Dry skin is common in the winter for many reasons. Winter air is often dryer than summer air, and the air that comes out of indoor furnaces and central heating can be even dryer than the air outside. However, dry skin also occurs from not drinking enough water, and winter dehydration can definitely cause uncomfortably dry skin. Without enough moisture to the skin barrier, dehydrated skin lacks moisture from the inside. A dehydrated person may therefore have skin that appears not only dry, but also dull, wrinkled and uneven.

If you’re experiencing skin problems and you’re not dehydrated, you could have a genetic skin condition which you could learn about in your skin reports from CircleDNA.

Itchy Skin

The dryness of your skin due to winter dehydration and dry air will irritate your skin. In general, dryness is an irritant, and it’s very common for dry skin to be uncomfortably itchy. Drinking more water can help combat the winter itch, as can certain professional skin creams.

Chapped Lips

Chapped, cracked lips and dry mouth are clear signs of dehydration. You’ll have trouble producing enough saliva if you’re dehydrated, which explains dry mouth. Chapped and cracked lips occur when the fragile skin on the lips isn’t getting enough moisture, and the lips start drying out and cracking.

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Headaches

You may have heard that a natural cure for headaches is to chug a bunch of water. This is because dehydration can certainly cause headaches or migraines. Your brain is made up of about 80% water. When you become dehydrated, the loss of fluid causes your brain to shrink and contract from the skull. As your brain pulls away from the skull, it can cause pain in the form of a headache. You’ll likely get fewer headaches if you remember to drink more water and avoid winter dehydration.

Stiffness While Walking, Trouble Moving, Pain or Muscle Cramps

Troubles with mobility (such as stiff legs while walking, muscle soreness, less range of motion or pain while walking) could be due to dehydration. This is because dehydration and loss of electrolytes can cause muscle spasms, joint stiffness, and muscle soreness. Your joints need plenty of water to move properly. Muscle cramps are very common when you’re dehydrated as well. Muscle cramping caused by dehydration can be very painful.

Brain Fog or Lightheadedness

Dehydration can cause dizziness, lightheadedness and brain fog. Your brain needs water to function optimally, as does your body. In extreme cases, dehydration can even cause episodes of severe mental confusion, fainting or loss of consciousness. You might be drinking enough water to stay conscious, but not enough for your brain to function optimally, which is why you’re experiencing brain fog or lightheadedness. 

Dark Urine

If your urine is darker in colour, this indicates dehydration. It should be pale yellow, close to clear in colour. It’s important to note that odd colours of urine can be the result of many illnesses. For example, fluorescent, bright canary yellow urine could be a sign of cancer, while dark and amber-coloured urine could be a sign of winter dehydration. If you’re noticing strange colours or odd shades of yellow, please speak to your doctor.

Sugar Cravings

It’s important to keep our sugar cravings in check because sugar addiction is a real problem. When you’re dehydrated, your body struggles to break down glycogen and releases less glucose into your bloodstream. This leads to sugar cravings and the compulsion to eat sweet treats. If you’ve ever heard the expression, You’re not hungry, you’re actually just thirsty, there is plenty of truth to this statement. Instead of reaching for the cookies, drink a few glasses of water.

There are many ways to remember to drink more water. You can purchase a huge water bottle that holds at least 64 ounces of water. Filling that giant water bottle up in the morning and keeping that bottle in front of you will help you track your daily water intake. You should also drink a glass of water after each meal, and replace other drinks with water.

Erica Gordon
150 posts

About author
Erica Gordon is the Managing Editor and Director of Content at Circle Magazine. Erica majored in Psychology at UBC and has since founded The Babe Report and followed her passion for writing and journalism, with a focus on health and travel writing.
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