What Happens to the Body When You Do Not Drink Enough Water?

Dehydration occurs if you do not drink enough water.
Dehydration occurs if you do not drink enough water. (Image: Jupiterimages/Creatas/Getty Images)

Water makes up between 55 and 85 percent of a healthy adult's body weight, and drinking water is essential for a variety of organ functions. Doctors recommend you drink at least .5 oz. water for every pound of body weight you have, and drink an additional 25 percent if you are overweight. By not drinking enough water, you risk dehydration. Mild dehydration may be self-treatable, but more severe dehydration requires hospitalization. Women who are pregnant should be especially careful, as not drinking enough water can be detrimental to her health and the health of her baby.


Dehydration is responsible for the physical effects on your body by not drinking enough water. It may occur for a variety of reasons, but one of the most common reasons is not consuming enough water. This is especially important if you engage in physical activity, as you lose more water through sweat than you do by remaining dormant.

Early Stages of Dehydration

During the earliest stages of dehydration, you may notice few physical effects except for thirst. As dehydration progresses, your urine may become darker yellow or discolored, and your legs and arms may start to cramp. You may experience dry and warm skin, a dry mouth, dry tongue and thick saliva. Replenishing fluids by drinking water or sports drinks with electrolytes should reverse the effects of dehydration, but visit a hospital if you continue to experience dehydration symptoms.

Severe Dehydration

As dehydration becomes more serious, the symptoms increase in intensity. Your muscles start to contract and you may experience a bloated stomach. Your breathing becomes faster than normal. In severe dehydration, your heart may fail, resulting in permanent heart damage or death. If you notice these symptoms in your body, you should get to a hospital immediately. Severe dehydration is treated by doctors who use intravenous fluids to reverse the effects of dehydration.

Physical Risks During Pregnancy

A pregnant woman who does not drink enough water is at risk of damaging her body and the body of the fetus inside, if she allows dehydration to progress. A fetus that experiences dehydration in the first and second trimester of pregnancy can have deformed extremities as a result of a lack of amniotic fluid in the mother's womb, which keeps the baby from resting against the mother's uterus. During the second and third trimesters, dehydration can result in premature birth, which may result in permanent physical disinformation for the baby or even death.

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