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Can Dehydration Cause Tingling?

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Dehydration is a common condition that many of us may encounter throughout our lives. Yet, its symptoms and implications can often go beyond what we traditionally recognize. Beyond the well-known feelings of thirst and a dry mouth, dehydration can manifest in several other, less expected ways. One such manifestation that raises curiosity and concern is the sensation of tingling in parts of the body.

In this blog, we delve into the relationship between dehydration and tingling sensations with the aim to shed light on whether dehydration can indeed cause this peculiar symptom.

What is Dehydration?

Water is the true elixir of life. It forms the basis of life on earth and comprises 55-65% of our body mass. Two-thirds of the water in the body is intracellular (inside the cells), predominantly in lean tissue. The remaining one third is extracellular (outside the cells). Out of the total extracellular water in our body, only 25% is intravascular (occurring in the blood vessels). With aging, the quantity of both the extracellular and intracellular water, declines.

Simply put, dehydration occurs when our body loses more fluid (with or without salt) than it takes in. This imbalance disrupts the normal balance of minerals (salts and sugar) in your body, which can interfere with its function.

Common causes of dehydration include the following:

  • Excessive sweating in hot or humid weather or while performing an activity
  • Insufficient fluid intake
  • Diarrhoea
  • Vomiting
  • Increased urination due to undiagnosed or uncontrolled diabetes
  • Side-effects of medications.

The general symptoms of dehydration include feeling thirsty, having a dry mouth, producing darker, less frequent urine, feeling lightheaded or dizzy, and tingling sensations in parts of the body.

Understanding Tingling Sensations

Tingling sensations are medically known as paraesthesia. They often feel like pricking, numbness, or pins and needles in different parts of the body.

While paraesthesia can be transient and harmless – such as when you experience ‘pins and needles’ from sitting in one position for too long – it can also be a sign of underlying health issues.

Common causes of tingling sensation may include the following:

  • Pressure on nerves due to standing or sitting for a long time
  • Pressure on nerves from spine conditions such as herniated disk
  • Low levels of calcium, and low or high levels of sodium and potassium in the body
  • Effect of deficiencies such as Vitamin B1, B6, B12 or folic acid on the nerve function
  • Restricted blood supply due to hardened arteries, frost bite, or vessel inflammation
  • Infections and diseases such as shingles, herpes zoster, leprosy or tuberculosis
  • Nerve damage that maybe side-effects of medications, radiation therapy or autoimmune conditions

 Can Dehydration Cause Tingling?

Dehydration can indeed lead to tingling sensations in some individuals. These tingling sensations may be felt in the fingers, hands, feet, arms or legs.

Due to dehydration, the body lacks sufficient fluids. This leads to a decrease in blood volume in the body, which in turn causes reduction in blood flow to various parts of the body, including the nerves. This diminished blood flow can cause nerve cells to malfunction, producing the tingling sensation known as paraesthesia.

Additionally, the imbalance of electrolytes, which are crucial for nerve and muscle function, can also contribute to these sensations.

Other Symptoms of Dehydration to Watch For

Besides tingling, dehydration can manifest through various other symptoms that shouldn’t be ignored. These include a dry mouth, fatigue, dizziness, and dark-colour urine. Recognizing these symptoms early on is vital as they can signal the need to rehydrate before more severe complications arise.

Recently, it has been suggested that the assessment of mental status should also be considered a vital sign. It is well accepted that dehydration commonly causes delirium – a mental state characterised by confusion, disorientation, and reduced awareness of surroundings. Persons in nursing homes with agitated or aggressive behaviour are more likely to have anorexia, weight loss and dehydration.

Preventing Dehydration

Preventing dehydration is key to avoiding the discomfort and potential health risks it poses. Some tips for staying adequately hydrated are as follows:

  • As a rule of thumb, always ensure 2-3 litres of water or liquids as a minimal requirement. Additional water can be taken in accordance with thirst.
  • Always drink and cook with sun-charged water. Keep water in a glass bottle out in the sun for 3-4 hours. Alternatively, you can also use a kangen water machine which provides similar benefits.
  • For better absorption at a cell level, you can add a pinch of rock salt with your water every now and then.
  • Fruits and vegetable contain structured water. Hence, eating these can provide instant rehydration. Especially, coconut water and ice apple during summers.
  • We need 2300 mg of sodium and 4700 mg of potassium daily. Consume sufficient vegetables to ensure there is no depleting of these essential minerals.
  • Take electrolytes with water when you work-out or perform any physical activities.
  • If you fall ill, ensure that you remain sufficiently hydrated during the period of illness
  • In case children vomit or have diarrhoea, give them extra water and ORS immediately. Don’t wait till they are dehydrated

However, it should be borne in mind that the daily requirement of water differs according to the body phenotype and metabolism.

When to Seek Medical Help

You can usually reverse mild to moderate dehydration by drinking more fluids but severe dehydration needs immediate medical treatment. These severe cases may be indicated by symptoms such as extreme thirst, very dry skin, dizziness and confusion.

If tingling sensations spread or are persistent, or are accompanies by other concerning symptoms, it is important to consult a healthcare provider to rule out other underlying conditions.

Complications of dehydration may include:

  • Heat injury that occurs when you exercise vigorously and perspire heavily. This may be in the form of mild heat cramps, heat exhaustion, or potentially life-threatening heatstroke.
  • Urinary tract infections, kidney stones and even kidney failure.
  • Seizures due to electrolyte (sodium and potassium) imbalance.
  • Hypovolemic shock; a life-threatening condition that occurs when the body loses a large amount of blood or fluids, making it difficult for the heart to pump enough blood to the body.

At Wellfinity, we have observed that dehydration markers are very common to most chronic disease patients, across the spectrum. The reason for this is that the cells are stressed out due to lack of hydration, leading to inflammation and other root causes of diseases.

Understanding the link between dehydration and tingling sensations highlights the importance of staying adequately hydrated for our overall health and well-being. By recognizing the signs of dehydration early and taking steps to maintain hydration, we can prevent dehydration and other related symptoms.

We must always bear in mind, the vital role water plays in our lives and we need to be proactive in our hydration habits. Consult a healthcare provider if you’re experiencing severe or persistent symptoms to ensure comprehensive care. Our team of functional medicine experts at Wellfinity will always be happy to be of help.

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