How can I tell if I am drinking enough water?

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Leigh Vinocur, MD
Emergency Medicine
Most of us healthy folks get enough water in the foods and liquids we consume. That includes any liquid we drink -- even caffeinated beverages like soda, coffee and tea. Our kidneys work to perfectly balance and regulate our water requirements so that we take in and retain as much fluid as we need. Healthy people can let thirst be their guide to their fluid requirements.

However, certain medications -- such as those for heart disease, stomach ulcers or depression -- can alter your thirst mechanism. So can certain diseases, like diabetes insipidus. The elderly can also sometimes have a poorly-regulated thirst mechanism. Another group of individuals that may require more fluids are people who have problems with kidney stones or chronic urinary tract infections. They may to need to over-hydrate from time to time and may benefit from excess water to flush out their kidney stones or bacteria from their bladder. Meanwhile, patients on dialysis for kidney disease may have to restrict their fluid intake.

Athletes, military recruits, or anyone forced to work outside during the hottest part of a summer day may require more fluids than generally recommended. And if you're already in the throes of heat illness or heat stroke, you may have an inadequate or malfunctioning thirst mechanism.

But for most of us, an easy way to gauge how well-hydrated we are is to simply look at our urine. It should be fairly clear, and if it is very dark yellow, that's sign we may need to drink more water.
Dawn Marcus
Neurology
You can make sure you're getting enough to drink by watching how much you drink and watching your urine color. Believe it or not, looking at the color of your urine is as effective an indicator for your level of hydration as laboratory tests. When you're hydrated, your urine should be straw colored. If you drink a lot of liquids, your urine will become lighter in color. Conversely, if you're dehydrated, your urine will appear darker.
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Continue Learning about Water

Water

Plenty of water in your diet helps digestion, skin, and muscle tone. It can help prevent cramping during exercise and even relive stress. Many times we are low on water - dehydrated, and don't realize it. Being dehydrated can mani...

fest with symptoms like fatigue and depression. In fact, by the time we are feeling thirsty, we're already slightly dehydrated. That's one reason that we hear the recommendation to drink eight standard glasses of water daily. Adequate water helps you digest food an helps your body get rid of wastes. Your kidneys need to process water for you to eliminate waste by urination, and getting enough water ensures that these wastes are diluted. Not getting enough water can encourage the formation of painful kidney stones.
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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.