How to tell if you’re dehydrated – Tips to avoid a hangover

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How To Tell If You’re Dehydrated and the effects of Dehydration on your Skin

Water. It’s the essence of life that none of us can live without. Whether you prefer filtered, bottled water or simply tap, you need to consume water to keep your organs functioning at their best; as well as helping your skin maintain its healthiest glow.  Water can also help us to fight fatigue, and leave us feeling more refreshed.  Making up about 2/3 of our entire body weight, getting enough water on a daily basis is a vital resource for our overall well being AND our skin.


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It’s long since been advised to drink 8-10 glasses a day. Most of us fall way short of that figure, however, and many of us think that caffeinated beverages – such as colas or coffee – count.  But they DON’T count towards water intake as the fluids in most products contain ingredients that can potentially thwart hydration levels, such as caffeine or too much sugar.  And researchers have long been asking: is 8 to 10 glasses of water really enough to best sustain the human body?

If you’re especially active or overly busy, or are simply NOT a fan of drinking water – you need to ensure you are keeping yourself properly hydrated. Here’s why.

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Dehydration can essentially cause your body to slow down or even break down. It is one of the most unhealthy things you can do to yourself (the other is not getting enough sleep).

Read on to see if YOU pass our test in relation to the 10 most common signs that you’re actually dehydrated – and what it can do to your skin.


Headaches Got You Down?

If you routinely suffer from headaches, this is potentially the #1 sign that you could be suffering from frequent dehydration. Did you know that your brain is approximately 77% water? When you become overly dehydrated, the tissues in your brain actually lose water and your brain can even shrink back a bit, pulling away from your skull.  This can trigger pain receptors around your brain, with the intention to alert your body that you have a headache. Here’s where most of us go wrong in terms of dehydration: you take medication for a headache instead of drinking enough water to hydrate your body (not TOO much and not TOO quickly, as it’s usually best to drink water throughout the day).

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Dehydration Can Leave you Feeling Fatigued or Groggy

What can be worse is that dehydration can also cause your blood volume to decrease. This ends up lowering your flow of oxygen AND blood to your brain, and can leave you feeling groggy as well as miserable with a nagging, pulsing headache.

Dry Mouth is a Common Sign of Dehydration

If you’re dealing with ongoing dehydration, you might not even notice the typical symptoms – you can start to think they’re normal, but they’re NOT. They are a sign of dehydration.  One of these is a lack of usual saliva in your mouth, which is a fairly common side effect of not getting enough fluid into your body throughout the day.  All of us need saliva to help us with a number of functions, including tasting and breaking down food. But when you get dehydrated, a lack of adequate fluid throughout your body ends up leaving you with a significant decrease in the amount of saliva that your body actually produces.  So if you feel that your mouth is dry, or you have temporary difficulty swallowing, check your hydration levels and be sure you’re drinking enough water.  Of course, if you have persistent or unusual symptoms (such as a constant difficult time swallowing), do be sure to see your doctor for a check-up.

Excess Thirst may be Dehydration or Something Else

One of the telltale signs of dehydration is an unquenchable thirst, or even a craving for a specific type of drink (such as cola, coffee or even orange juice) that may not actually leave you feeling less thirsty.  For example, after a long night of consuming a lot of alcohol such as at the races or at a party, you may find yourself stumbling out of your bed feeling quite parched.  You may also feel that, somehow, you can’t seem to satisfy your thirst.  That’s because alcohol and other drinks can work against your body’s normal hydration levels. They end up dehydrating your body and they also put additional stress on your liver, kidneys and other organs. Mild to moderate levels of dehydration can readily result from a night of consuming grog, so be sure you drink water the entire time (one to two glasses of water between every glass of alcohol) so that you will end up less dehydrated the next day.

Are Sports Drinks Worth It?

Most professionals will tell you that drinking popular sports drinks won’t keep you hydrated and you’ll still want plain water for best hydration. Sports drink marketing is big business. Beverage production firms will claim their products help “replenish your electrolytes” during cycling, marathons or other outdoor activities in the Australian sun. But here are important considerations about sports drinks you might want to keep in mind. (1) The ingredients in your favorite sports drink will not necessarily hydrate you; (2) some ingredients may even be detrimental for your body, potentially high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), artificial sweeteners, colouring and other ingredients that may or may not be perfectly safe to consume. And if you’re drinking these instead of water, you’re usually consuming more sodium and sugar than you may realise.  Did you know that Gatorade’s Thirst Quencher (946mL bottle) contains 56 grams of sugar?

If you want to know more about what’s in YOUR Sports Drink, download AIS Sports Supplement Framework.

Your Dentist Might Not Approve You Drinking Sports Drinks. Some of these ‘sports’ drinks can also carry up to two-thirds of the sugar content of colas. They may be 30 times more erosive to your teeth enamel than plain water.  Although the jury is out, high-fructose corn syrup consumption is suspected of causing some unwanted health conditions (obesity and potential hormonal disruptions including of HGH or human growth hormone).

To be on the safe side and stay hydrated, you’re usually better off drinking plain water (or water with a twist of real lemon or lime) – it’s typically what your body is actually craving when you’re feeling thirsty.

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Are Diet Colas or Fruit Juices worth it?

The jury is out. Research highlighted that surveyed consumers of diet colas have been found to have a 70% increase in their waist size compared to non-diet cola drinkers over a 10-year period, but this increased waist size could relate to overall food consumption not just diet cola consumption.  Even commercially produced fruit juices tend to be loaded with sugar. Commercial fruit juices are also often pasteurized, with oxygen removed as a preservation strategy; so they may look good and taste okay, but often commercial juices are less nutrient-dense than you might think (try eating fruit or juicing your own at home).

Too Much Caffeine…Too Little Water…and what about your skin?

Excess caffeine consumption often quickly leads to a state of physical dehydration, which isn’t great for your skin. It can leave your skin looking dull or lifeless and increase dryness if you suffer from flaky, dry skin.  For the caffeine addicts among us, we suggest trying to sip water throughout the day – instead of chugging down coffee all day long.  Or as with alcohol above, be sure you drink a full glass of water between every cup of coffee.

Plain, non-fizzy water is actually one of the best things you can possibly put inside your body, so try switching to water before and after that first macchiato, cappuccino or latte in the morning.

dehydration; exercise; water

Irritability and Mood Swings Might Relate to Fluid Imbalances

Some people say that they feel irritable when they haven’t “had enough” caffeine, but it might actually be that they are low on fluids, overall, especially water.  Water can work to help hydrate your entire body and skin. Drinking enough water daily can give your skin a glow – and possibly even boost your energy in ways you never thought were possible.

We suggest you carry an environmentally friendly, refillable water bottle around with you – all day long, and aim to steadily sip water to get your intake up to par.  In just a few days time, you are likely to notice a positive shift in those mood swings thanks to being better hydrated (which can help with your body fluid balances).  When you’re properly hydrated, you’ll often feel an improved sense of well-being overall. And friends and coworkers, accustomed to dodging your bad moods, might also notice a difference (but DO check with your Doctor if you suffer unusual mood swings or any form of depression or chronic malaise).

Infrequent Urination versus Good Hydration

If you’re dehydrated your body will naturally produce less urine, and the urine that you are excreting is typically dark and orange-ish in color (i.e. not good).  But if you have excess urination or Polyuria (frequent urination; > 2 litres a day) you could potentially have a medical condition such as diabetes. Anyone who consumes lots of water will tell that frequent urination is a common outcome of having healthy hydration. Obviously, our urine has a yellow tinge but isn’t meant to be overly yellow to orange (which can be a sign not just of dehydration but of kidney disease). So if we are fueling our bodies with the amount of water that we need, the yellow colour of the urine should become a bit of a clearer shade with of yellow, or just have a subtle yellowish tint.  It will also tend to have a less-strong odour when you stay well-hydrated.   Tip: If you find that your urine production changes or increases suddenly (such as Polyuria), or if you are at any risk of developing diabetes, DO get a medical check up – especially if you’re overweight or otherwise at risk of developing Type II Diabetes – and tell your doctor about your concerns.

Constipation is Worse when you’re Dehydrated; Constipation is bad for your body AND your skin

Just as our bodies need enough water to help with urine flow, our body also needs adequate water intake to keep our stools moving as they should. For those that aren’t passing at least one bowel movement per day, try drinking the recommended 8-10 glass—or slightly more if you can.

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With proper hydration, along with being generally healthy, you should see a boost in toilet breaks once you start getting your body the hydration it requires for proper elimination.

You’ll also be likely to notice that increasing the healthy elimination of body waste means your skin looks healthier and clearer.

Dehydration and Dizziness: Feeling Light-headed?

As with headaches, dizziness can sometimes occur when you feel a sudden onset of dehydration or become overly dehydrated.

This can occur if you’ve been sweating a lot, vomiting or have had diarrhea, or simply allowed your body to become dehydrated over several days.  You may notice that when you bend over and stand back up, a bit too quickly, you might feel a sudden rush of blood flow to your brain; which can also be a sign of low blood pressure (another common side effect of dehydration).  Increase your water intake to a healthy level BUT do get checked by your GP or other medical professional if you are feeling dizzy or light headed – and whatever you do, don’t drive if you’re feeling dizzy or light-headed.

Skin Blemishes and Dehydration

All organs require adequate water to function, and the skin – your largest organ – is no exception. Drinking lots of waterworks to help keep your skin it’s healthiest best, but good nutrition is also crucial.

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Water is crucial to keep your skin functioning it’s best – especially if you suffer acne, oily skin, dry skin or other conditions.

When are bodies are depleted of this vital resource, our skin can wear the signs of our dehydration, for all to see. For those of us that experience frequent breakouts or acne, start drinking enough water today. As your body begins to get the H2O that it needs for proper hydration and elimination, some of your blemishes will go bye-bye quicker than most treatments can fix. But if you DO have acne or frequent breakouts, get a skin care evaluation from one of our Dermal Clinicians. They have top treatments and medical-grade products that can greatly reduce your breakouts and even remedy acne for many patients.

Fatigue and Dehydration: Are they linked?

If you’re getting the recommended amount of quality sleep for an adult, which is approximately 7 to 8 hours at night of uninterrupted sleep (with no sleep apnea), this should be enough to keep your body charged until it’s time to hit the sack again each night. But when you’re dehydrated, you’re body is essentially being forced to work overtime to make up for the lack of water in your system. The result? You may feel as if you’ve just run a marathon even though you’ve only walked up to one flight of stairs. The solution? Water – healthy, non-carbonated water, and consumed throughout the day (you can stop around 6 pm or 7 pm if you want to reduce your middle-of-night trips to the facilities).

Is your body – and your skin – sufficiently hydrated?

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If you noticed that you suffer from any of these symptoms of dehydration – AND you know you’re “not a good water drinker” and have ruled out other health conditions –  we suggest you look into different ways of incorporating water drinking into your daily regime to give your body — your health – and your skin — the boost it needs to look and feel it’s healthiest best.

The good thing about dehydration is that, whilst the condition is common – it has an easy-made solution.  It starts with steadily sipping on clean H20, with or without a wedge of real lemon or line. It’s also an affordable and readily available resource for most of us living in Australia – so there’s really no excuse for depriving your body of adequate water intake.

You’ll feel and look your best when you drink enough water throughout the day!

The Ultimate Hangover Prevention & Recovery Guide for Big events

How NOT to wear a hangover the next day – and what to do if you find yourself with a nasty hangover.

Carnival Season is in full swing in Australia. There’s no doubt that you’re likely sorting out what you’ll be wearing to the big events, including if you’re attending the races on Melbourne Cup Day.  But HOW do you have a great time at the races without wearing a hangover the next day?  Read more about hangover prevention and the alleged “hangover cures”.

Best Way to Recover From a Hangover:  “Prevention is Better Than A Cure”

The age old adage that prevention is better than a cure is something you’ll want to think about on Race Day – from TWO key perspectives.

1) Avoid getting sunburnt by wearing a high quality, physical block sunscreen and reapplying frequently.    The sun not only damages your skin, but it can also lead to pigmentation problems and even skin cancers.

2) Hangover Prevention – There are 3 key parts to having a hangover prevention strategy. Unfortunately, they can be temporarily forgotten while you’re out in the sun having fun. So write them down and carry them in your purse; try to remind yourself of these tips throughout the day.

Hangover Prevention Tip#1:

Your water fluid intake should equal OR ideally EXCEED your alcohol intake

  • The first trick for hangover prevention is WATER or H2O consumption
  • You should drink 1 to 2 big glasses of water BEFORE you head out to any event
  • You should also drink a large glass of water between each alcohol-based drink (fresh, plain water – no substitutes)

Pure Water is best – Avoid sugary juices and energy drinks as they might make your hangover worse

Do NOT add juices, carbonated beverages or sports drinks (such as Red Bull) to your drinking regime

  • These will only make the toxic effects of alcohol worse

If there is a chance you are pregnant, do NOT drink at all

  • There is NO SAFE LEVEL of alcohol intake during any stage of pregnancy
  • If you drink, your future child could end up suffering from brain damage or FASD
  • If you’re out with a friend who’s pregnant, do NOT encourage her to have an alcohol-based drink

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Why is WATER a great way to prevent a hangover?

  • Dehydration often leads you to drink more alcohol out of thirst, when what your body really wants – and needs – is water
  • Drinking water can help slow down the consumption of alcohol as well as help dilute the impact of the toxins in your system
  • Dehydration makes hangovers worse the next day; water will go a long way towards prevention and minimisation of the effects of alcohol on your body

PRACTICAL TIP:  If you stay well hydrated on racing days, you may find yourself visiting the facilities more than usual. DO bring extra tissues or toilet paper along with in your purse in case the facilities are overrun with other racegoers.

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Hangover Prevention Tip#2:  NUTRITION

Eat enough FOOD and do NOT ‘pre-load’ before an event

  • Be sure you EAT HEALTHY FOOD – and enough of it – before you have a first drink
  • DON’T PRELOAD your body with alcohol before an event; if you do, be sure it’s only 1 standard drink and that it’s taken on a FULL stomach
  • EAT continually THROUGHOUT THE DAY – aim for healthy food that has some balance in terms of food groups and don’t skip on carbs or proteins

Hangover Prevention Tip#3:  PACING & SETTING LIMITS
Have a DRY Hour every 3rd Hour of the Event & LIMIT the number of drinks you have in the day – keep track!

  • Set a limit that takes into account how long you’ll be at the event AND your BMI and body weight
    • Fat metabolism, height/weight and other factors impact how your body processes alcohol
    • Remember that everyone is different – DON’T try to keep up with your friends
    • Say NO politely OR switch to water; don’t be afraid to try diluting your drinks with water
  • Read up on how much alcohol is in a standard drink and what that means in terms of your blood alcohol content (BAC)
  • Don’t mix and match different types of alcohol as it’s harder to keep track of what you’re drinking AND might increase the negative effects of a hangover

DO KEEP TRACK of exactly how much you’re drinking (this is where most of us go wrong)!

  • Have a DRY hour where you consume ONLY water and eat food every 3rd hour of being at an event
  • Set your watch for every 2 hours and time your DRY hour – learn to say NO to refills and top-ups
  • Generally, limit yourself to what is considered  1 to 2 standard drinks per hour MAXIMUM in terms of your BMI and body weight – PLUS give yourself a safe daily limit and do NOT exceed this
    • binging is very harmful to your health in more ways than just a hangover
    • high alcohol consumption is even linked with increased breast cancer risks
    • you don’t want to look back with embarrassment on how you behaved in public or in front of close friends or new dating prospects
  • DO NOT drive or operate machinery under the influence of ANY alcohol – stay safe and keep others safe
  • If you know you have a tendency to over-consume, DON’T drink at all on racing day – and get professional help – women’s bodies are potentially more susceptible to developing problem drinking patterns than men’s bodies, due to different hormones and enzyme levels that impact alcohol detoxification

The Best Hangover Remedies for After Big Events

Here comes the BAD news for when you’re feeling badly after racing day.  There are over 100 different ‘hangover cures’ touted on the internet, but their effectiveness is dubious.

One of the top evidence-based medical research review groups, the Cochrane Collaboration, was investigating the effectiveness of numerous popular hangover cures.  They have been looking into a number of studies to determine which hangover cure was better than others.

What earlier systematic reviews have found was this: “[…]no compelling evidence exists to suggest that any complementary or conventional intervention is effective for treating or preventing the alcohol hangover.” Source:

What this means:  You could be wasting time and money (or even harming your health) by trying things like cabbage, charcoal table, Ginseng, Glutamine, liver-cleansing pills and so forth.  Fish oil MIGHT help reduce inflammatory responses, but apparently, you have to be taking it for weeks in advance, not just before or after drinking.  Plus, the jury still seems to be out as to how much different supplement help, or hinder, health.  Again, the only effective way to deal with a hangover is by avoiding getting one in the first place.

If you ARE stuck with a hangover the next morning, just be sensible.

Remember, ALCOHOL IS A DRUG. It’s also a TOXIN. Your body will need time to eliminate the toxins from your system.

  1. HYDRATE!  Drink plenty of fresh, clean water (not caffeine or other substances that increase dehydration – dehydration makes a hangover worse).
  2. Eat HEALTHY foods (these won’t necessarily help, but will be good for your body in the longer run). If you’re feeling queasy, try eating dry toast or toast with Vegemite – just as you normally would for a condition that leaves you with nausea.
  3. GINGER, EGGS and ASPARAGUS have some properties that may help break down the alcohol in your body so might be worth a try.
  4. DON’T drink more alcohol – avoid any form of ‘hair of the dog’ approach – these tactics only delay the inevitable.
  5. Go for a WALK or get ACTIVE if the weather is nice.
  6. DON’T necessarily take ACETAMINOPHEN as some medications can harm the liver due to metabolic changes of the body’s elimination of the alcohol toxins.
  7. Some people swear by an OCEAN SWIM or a POOL swim – but make sure you’re fully sober before you go anywhere near the water or get into your car.
  8. SAUNAS can be very dehydrating and tough on the body’s systems if you’re feeling unwell. So GO EASY if you choose this route and be sure you’re hydrated before and after.  Don’t stay in longer than a few minutes.

References: Further reading on alcohol or hangovers:

  1. Pittler MH, Verster JC, Ernst E. Interventions for preventing or treating alcohol hangover: systematic review of randomised controlled trials. BMJ 2005; 331: 1515
  2. Systematic Review: Are the results of the review valid? Centre for Evidence Based Medicine, University of Oxford. Retrieved: 14 November 2011
  3. Howland J, Rohsenow DJ, Allensworth-Davies D, et al. The incidence and severity of hangover the morning after moderate alcohol intoxication. Addiction 2008; 103(5): 758-65
  4. National Health and Medical Research Council. Australian guidelines to reduce health risks from drinking alcohol. Commonwealth of Australia 2009.

Your Skin After a Big Event

If your skin needs some pampering, contact our Dermal Clinician team for information about revitalising facials and Low-Level Light Therapy (LLLT) such as Healite II treatments. With great at-home products and top in-clinic skin treatments, our Coco Ruby team can help your skin recovery BEFORE the next holiday parties are upon you!


If you want to get your skin back into peak condition or reduce acne, dryness, wrinkles, redness or facial ageing – including correcting sun damage and pigmentation issues or skin cancer – give our Dermal Clinicians or Plastic Surgeons a call today on (03) 8849 1400.


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