Life - Health & Wellness Updated: March 26, 2023

Harmful Effects Of Being Dehydrated

By Felicia Abisola Olamiji
March 26, 2023

Health experts have urged Nigerians to embrace drinking water regularly, warning that frequent dehydration can cause permanent kidney damage and renal failure.

According to the experts, studies have confirmed the importance of water to important body cells, tissues, and organs, especially in ensuring that they keep working optimally.

The health experts stressed that adequate hydration, is even more critical when running a fever, experiencing diarrhea, or after exercising the body, noting that proper hydration should be seen as critical to healthy living.

One of the experts, a family physician, Dr Ibraheem Kuranga, who spoke with Punch explained that water remains crucial to the proper functioning of the human system, adding that it helps keep the blood vessels open so that blood with important nutrients can travel freely to the kidneys.

He stressed that it becomes harder for the delivery system to work when the body is dehydrated.


Dr. Kuranga argued that while the kidney cannot be easily damaged, continuous water deprivation can destroy the kidney cells.

He urged Nigerians to devise ways to take up to three litres of water daily, disclosing that chronic medical illnesses like severe hyperglycemia in patients with diabetes can also easily predispose them to kidney failure.

“There is no specific water intake that is strictly prohibited but take enough to your satisfaction at the time you are feeling like taking water.

"However, if you engage in any activity that drains you of your body water, then rehydrate yourself to feel normal again.

“If you are not involved in strenuous exercise and the weather is not hot, two to three litres may be enough for adults daily and this can be achieved by eating twice daily.


“Kidney is one of the organs that regulate body water.

"It is not easily damaged except in a chronic (prolonged) state of water deprivation as in drought or a disease state with severe dehydration or with the intake of nephrotoxic agents that directly destroy kidney cells.

“Chronic medical illness like severe hyperglycemia in patients with diabetes could easily predispose to kidney failure because the cells of the body are in a constant state of dehydration.

"There are so many ways by which the body regulates its water contents, via excretion in sweat (skin), urine (urogenital /kidney), faeces (gastrointestinal), etc.”

Also speaking, a Nephrologist, Dr Timothy Olusegun Olanrewaju noted that dehydration may increase the risk of kidney stone formation, acute kidney injury, and urinary tract infection.


The nephrologist added that inadequate water intake can also lead to other health problems which include excessive thirst, fatigue, constipation, light-headedness or dizziness, confusion, dry skin, headaches, delirium, heat intolerance, and irritability.

“Inadequate water intake may also lead to reduced frequency of urination or urine output. Normally a person urinates six or seven times per day. In addition, inadequate water intake may lead to an electrolyte imbalance (body minerals like sodium and potassium), syncopal attacks or fainting spells, and poor mental performance.

"Severe dehydration may cause hypovolemic shock with low blood pressure, and it may also cause venous sinus thrombosis (blood clot in the brain’s venous sinuses). 

“Dehydration may cause acute kidney injury, which if not treated promptly, may progress to acute kidney failure requiring dialysis.

"More importantly, dehydration contributes to the global epidemic of chronic kidney diseases (CKD), which may lead to chronic kidney failure, that requires dialysis and/or kidney transplantation as treatment.

“Worldwide, CKD affects about 800 million of the population; and 20-25 million of Nigerians. Recently, an epidemic of CKD unknown cause (CKDu) emerged across the world including Nigeria.

"The major factors that have been implicated are dehydration, heat stress, and arduous exercise.

"The proposed mechanism of this unique CKD led to the recognition that mild dehydration may be a risk factor in the progression of CKD from any cause.”

Dr Olanrewaju added that water is a crucial component of the human body.

“Water is essential for life. About 60-70 per cent of our body weight is water, and all parts of the body need it for optimal biologic functions.

“It is recommended that daily adult water intake should be about three liters per day, that is about 10-12 glasses of water in regions with hot climates like Nigeria and a large part of Africa.

“This amount increases with exercise, hot weather, illness, or increased physical activity.

"I advise that the general population should drink water as a way of life.

"Do not wait till you are thirsty before you drink water because thirst is a sign that already you are not taking enough and that you are dehydrated.

“Adequate water intake is beneficial to the body, and it ensures optimal functions of both visible and invisible biological systems.”


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Felicia Abisola Olamiji

  A graduate of English Language from Olabisi Onabanjo University, passionate about learning new...

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