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Not Drinking Enough Water? Science Says Your Respiratory System Will Suffer

Not Drinking Enough Water? Science Says Your Respiratory System Will Suffer

Water is our life force.  We all know that we should drink water regularly in order to maintain our overall health. And while the consumption of water is on the rise, it is only the second most popular drink – soft drinks still reign supreme.

Water and your respiratory system

Research has shown that dehydration vastly affects all of the systems in your body including your respiratory system. Drinking water helps to thin the mucus lining your airways and lungs. Dehydration can cause that mucus to thicken and get sticky, which slows down overall respiration and makes you more susceptible to illness, allergies and other respiratory problems.

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1. Dehydration makes it difficult to clear out mucus

When you don’t drink enough water, excessive mucus builds up and produces a plethora of side effects in your body. The mucus that forms in the back of your throat (although may be in your nose) triggers coughing, which is your body’s way of trying to expel it. Mucus buildup isn’t dangerous, but it is irritating. It can cause you to feel like you’re gagging or make breathing more difficult. Overproduction of mucus in the lungs occurs when the lungs become inflamed. The mucus that is created can become thick and sticky which quickly produces illnesses in the body and wreaks havoc on the respiratory system.

2. Dehydration can lead to chronic bronchitis

Bronchitis is caused by inflammation of the mucous membrane lining the lungs, which congests the airways and causes coughing. Bronchitis involves the loss of copious amounts  of water from the body. Those suffering with chronic bronchitis, most often deal with dehydration as well. A bronchitis diet should include lots of fluids and hydrating foods. These fluids also help the body to flush out toxins.

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3. Chronic dehydration can cause breathing problems

Dehydration causes some of the white cells to convert the amino acid histadine into histamine, which triggers allergic reactions. Once re-hydrated, these cells decrease their histamine production, and breathing symptoms dissipate. Water is used in the nasal passages, bronchial tubes, and lungs and to keep them moist. But when you breathe out, moisture from these tissues is expelled and every breath in brings in drying air. Under hydrated conditions water is rapidly replaced.

4. Dehydration can exacerbate asthma

Asthma is respiratory condition marked by spasms in the bronchi of the lungs which causes difficulty in breathing. It usually results from an allergic reaction or other forms of hypersensitivity. When asthma occurs  a person’s airways become inflamed, narrow and swell, and produce extra mucus, making it difficult to breathe. Proper hydration keeps mucus thin, which reduces its ability to further constrict airways.

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5. Dehydration can trigger allergies

Allergies are caused by a histamine reaction in the body.  If you are allergic to pollen, your body views pollen as a danger and overreacts, causing your immune system to produce histamines to fight the irritants.

Histamines also have other functions, including regulating the body’s water supply.  A 1995 Dutch study confirmed that dehydration triggers histamine production as a defensive mechanism to preserve water remaining in the body as well as to prevent future loss. When we are dehydrated, histamine production increases and can cause us to have the symptoms of seasonal allergies such as runny nose, sneezing, and itchy eyes. This accelerated histamine production to compensate for the body’s lack of water is easily avoided by simply drinking more.

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How to have proper hydration

Staying properly hydrated is one of the key components in maintaining a healthy respiratory system. These three healthy habits can increase hydration:

  • Drink a glass of water before each meal. This is a quick and easy way to increase your water intake. When you sit down to have a meal, down a glass of water (this will also help you consume less calories).
  • Eat foods with high water contents. Fruits and vegetables are a great way to increase your water intake. This also includes eating things like soups and drinking milk.
  • Carry your water with you. Research shows that when water is close at hand, consumption increases. Keep a bottle of water in your purse, your car and at your desk.

There is no formal recommendation for a daily amount of water people need. That amount obviously differs by what people eat, where they live. Your body will tell you when you are dehydrated, listen and take corrective action. A body well-hydrated with water just works more efficiently.

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Denise Hill

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Last Updated on March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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