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Chronic Dehydration More Common Than You Think

MIAMI (CBS) — Many people think they get plenty of fluids on a daily basis. What they don't realize, however, is that they may be dehydrated which could lead to a slew of heath issues including fatigue, joint pain and weight gain.

Michele Catalano was feeling sick, but couldn't pinpoint the cause. So she went to her doctor for a blood test. She was shocked by the diagnosis.

"I would feel very agitated," she said. "The doctor said I was dehydrated."

Catalano said she was surprised because she thought she had been drinking enough fluids and had no idea that a lack of water could have such an impact.

"I'm very bad at drinking water. I don't really like it," said Catalano.

Dehydration is one of the easiest conditions to reverse, according to doctors, but it is also one of the most commonly overlooked. It can contribute to a long list of medical conditions from respiratory and circulation problems to headaches, ulcers, high blood pressure and kidney disease.

"Sixty-percent of our bodies are composed of water, 75 percent in our muscles, 85 percent in our brains, it's like oil to a machine," explained Dr. Roberta Lee.

Most people know that they are supposed to drink water, but up to 75 percent of Americans may be functioning in a chronic state of dehydration, according to new research.

"We have a tendency in the U.S. to drink a lot of beverages that are mildly dehydrating," said Mary Grace Webb, Assistant Director for Clinical Nutrition at New York Hospital.

Webb said one indicator of dehydration may be constant hunger.

"Because the human body is so unique that it will say 'I want water' in food, in any way, shape or form," Webb said. "People just think that when they start to get a little weak or they have a headache, they need to eat something, but most often they need to drink."

Water is necessary for the body to digest and absorb vitamins and nutrients. It's also key to proper digestion, it detoxifies the liver and kidneys, and carries waste away, Webb said.

"If your urine becomes darkly colored like this, we're dehydrated. The urine should be light, straw colored," Webb explained.

Experts recommend drinking between eight and 10 cups of water a day.

"I'm trying new things, I'm trying to drink infused water, I'm trying to drink more seltzer," Catalano said.

If you don't like drinking water there are other options including flavored water or water-based foods like watermelon or soup.

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