Drinking Too Little Water is Hazardous

Drinking Too Little Water is Hazardous
Drinking Too Little Water is Hazardous

You’ve heard of drunk drivers, now there’s another peril on the road: the dry driver.

A new study says getting behind the wheel when dehydrated makes one as hazardous as being under the influence of alcohol.

The research from Loughborough University showed drivers who drank 25 ml (a couple of sips) of water an hour, instead of the recommended 200 ml (a third of a pint), made twice the number of mistakes as those who were well-hydrated.

In March, a study warned that the number of people with painful kidney stones has soared. According to Prof. Tom Sanders, of King’s College London, dehydration is said to be the most likely cause, Science News reported.

Kidney stones form when calcium deposits in urine clump to form crystals in the kidneys and then get trapped in the urethra. When a person is dehydrated, the concentration of deposits is higher.

The European Food Safety Authority recommends that women should drink 1.6 liters (eight glasses) of fluid per day, men two liters (ten glasses) and toddlers 1.3 liters (6½ glasses). We need water because we are water — it makes up 78 percent of our brains and two-thirds of the weight of our body.

Water is the vehicle transporting carbohydrates, proteins and vitamins, which are vital to keeping our organs alive. No less important is water’s job of transporting waste materials out of our bodies.

The bodies of adult men are 60% water and women about 55%. In women, fat makes up more of the body than men and this does not contain as much water as lean tissue.


Mild dehydration sets in when we lose between just 1-2 % of our body’s normal water volume. For a man, whose body contains 42 liters of water, that’s 840 ml - just four glasses. But even at this mild point, people start to become confused, says research in 2010 by Tufts University, Boston. Focus and short-term memory start to go.

Even more dangerous, our ability to assess accurately how we feel starts to fade, according to research by Barcelona University psychiatrists last year. This can mean we lose touch with the warning signs from our body that we are beginning to get more seriously dehydrated.

Though rectified quickly after a few glasses of water, frequent mild dehydration can cause longer-term problems, such as tooth decay, as we lack sufficient water to make protective saliva.

The study on drivers reinforces earlier research by the University of Nebraska’s Human Nutrition Center, which reported that dehydrated young men found it harder to think, remember or co-ordinate their limbs. And a brain scan study by psychiatrists at King’s College, London in 2010 found 90 minutes of steady sweating can shrink the brain as much as a year of ageing.

Physical changes caused by dehydration were likened to those in Alzheimer’s patients. If left untreated, severe dehydration can cause seizures, brain damage and death.