The Gustavian Weekly

CAUTION: Chronic Dehydration May Cause Stupidity | The Gustavian Weekly

By Ashley Nickel Opinion Columnist | September 18, 2014 | Opinion

In a land rich with surface and ground water, it isn’t just stupid that we don’t use the resources at our disposal, it’s dangerous. -Photo By:  Caroline Probst

In a land rich with surface and ground water, it isn’t just stupid that we don’t use the resources at our disposal, it’s dangerous. -Photo By: Caroline Probst

Ashley_NickelBefore I even start, I’ll let you in on a little secret. The correct answer is: water.

Now, before you hurry to your next class and proceed to answer every question on your quiz with H2O, first consider that you will most likely fail your quiz and/or test, start the year off to a less than desirable start, and probably take my name in vain. Repeatedly.

But the correct answer is still water. This is why:

Do you ever feel achy or tired for no apparent reason? Do you get frequent headaches, joint pain, or swollen appendages? Do you have to reach for that tall double latte mid-afternoon lest you face the terrible, narcoleptic monster called fatigue prevents you from focusing enough to get anything besides a nap accomplished?

When you feel sluggish and unresponsive, do you reach for an energy drink, or maybe a snack? Or do you just write is off as lack of sleep the night before? Maybe you blame it on age, just as sands through the hourglass, so are the days of your alertness…

If you make any excuses like the ones listed above, then you are just as incorrect as you would be if you walked into your topography class and answered every question on your “deserts of the world quiz” with “water.”

That means when you are tired for no reason in the middle of the day, your body is probably trying to tell you that you should drink a glass—or eight—of aqua. Most people in America, when experiencing the effects of thirst, often think they are hungry, tired, or sick, and therefore take action to remedy all of the wrong things.

“You would be incorrect in making these excuses because the answer to all of these physical problems is indeed water, or rather, lack of water. In the United States, as of 2011, 75 percent of people experienced symptoms due to chronic dehydration.”

But when symptoms of dehydration go unnoticed or ignored, there can be serious consequences. Not only does drinking water aid in burning fat, boosting metabolism, and keeping all of your hinges well oiled (so to speak), it is vital to every single mechanism in your body.

Yes, everyone knows this, or has heard it, or has been taught about the importance of water in living organisms. If you have ever taken an introductory course to biology or almost any other kind of science in your lifetime (which I am assuming almost everyone here has) then you understand this.

Without water, your body simply starts shutting down. Dehydration causes kidney failure, as well as build up of toxins in the liver, ulcers, and high blood pressure to name a few.

All the people reading this by now are probably grumbling their annoyance. These are things that everyone knows. Obviously we need water. So get on with it.

Although the ramifications of dehydration are obvious, still no one seems to care. Or maybe on one is willing to just change their behavior. This is not only dangerous, but also–frankly–idiotic.

We know what we are doing to ourselves, so why do we continue to do it? We go about our lives, making one of the unhealthiest choices of all, and never give it a second thought. Even our campus, which is reputed to be one of the healthiest in our region—if not the country—, is guilty of this.

But not only are we guilty of passively causing this problem, we also actively promote it. Before you object, think about how many times in the last week you reached for a cup of coffee, tea, soda, or an energy drink instead of a glass or bottle of water. And in this heat!

But we are not just being stupid and ignorant about this subject; we are also being selfish and ungrateful.

According to, a nonprofit organization committed to bringing water to those in need and raising awareness about the water crisis, 780 million people in the world do not have access to clean drinking water. That is in comparison to only 10 million people who don’t have clean drinking water in developed countries such as the United States. Yet still 3.4 million people die every year from water related disease.

“It is truly repulsive that when we are finally at a point in history where it is possible for almost all people to have safe drinking water, when the world has suffered through epidemics of horrendous proportions due to water sanitation issues, that we in the United States, even those of us who claim to be environmentally and health conscientious still suffer from disease and daily discomfort from lack of water when we don’t have to.”

And the punch line to this appalling joke is that we actively choose to live a lifestyle where 75 percent of us are chronically dehydrated.

So either drink the water we are fortunate enough to have, or give it to someone who is in desperate need of it. Because not only is chronic dehydration sweeping the nation, but also aparently chronic stupidity is a national pandemic.

-Ashley Nickel