Dehydration is what happens when your body doesn’t have enough water to function properly. Symptoms of dehydration can range from mild to moderate to severe. The human body is roughly 60% water. Because we are constantly losing water throughout the day through sweat and urine, experts say women should drink about 11.5 cups of water a day (2.7 liters) and men should drink about 15.5 cups a day (3.7 liters). Of course, a lot of people don’t regularly meet that goal and by not drinking enough water, they are putting themselves at risk for dehydration.
Who Is At Risk For Dehydration?
Anyone who isn’t consuming enough fluids throughout the day can experience dehydration. However, there are some people who are more at risk than others.
- Of all groups, babies and young children are most likely to get dehydrated because they can’t communicate when they are thirsty or get their own drink. They are also likely to experience severe symptoms like diarrhea, vomiting, and fever.
- Older Adults don’t often realize that they’re thirsty so they may miss out on drinking fluids throughout the day. They also may have trouble getting around and may not be able to get themselves something to drink.
- Sick people who have a fever are sweating out fluids at a higher rate. They also may not want to eat or drink anything if they have a sore throat.
- People with chronic illnesses, such as diabetes, may urinate more frequently than others, especially if they are taking water pills. If they aren’t actively replenishing their fluids, they may be susceptible to dehydration.
- People who are physically active outside are at risk for dehydration if they aren’t taking enough fluids, especially during warmer weather. If it’s hot and humid out, they body can’t cool down as fast and they will continue to lose water through sweat.
Severe dehydration can be life threatening and needs to be treated as a medical emergency. We compiled a list of symptoms and signs that you should increase your water consumption.
1. Dry Mouth
We’ve all been here before: you’re having a busy day and time flies by and you realize you’ve hardly drank any water all day. If your mouth starts feeling dry, it’s a sign you’re really thirsty and need to take a water break.
2. Extreme Thirst
This one should be a no brainer, but if you have extreme thirst, you’re probably dehydrated. Listen to your body, folks! If you’re thirsty, drink some water.
Headaches are a pretty common symptom of dehydration. The lack of fluids cause a shrinkage in brain volume, which makes the brain pull away from the skull and triggers pain receptors. Staying hydrated is an easy way to keep headaches at bay.
Along with headache, dizziness is a pretty common symptom of dehydration. When the brain doesn’t have enough fluids to function fully, you may start feeling lightheaded. If you stand up quickly feel unsteady or like you might pass out, try sipping on some water and see if that helps those feelings subside.
Everyone has lazy days where they lag behind. When this happens, you could either just need to take a nap or get a better night’s sleep. However, if you’re always feeling tired and lethargic, it could be your body tell you that you’re not drinking enough water.
6. Dry Skin
Any beauty enthusiast will tell you that the key to healthy glowing skin is a regular cleansing and moisturizing routine and to always stay hydrated! Your skin is one of the first organs that take a hit when your body is dehydrated. When your skin is dry, it produces more oils that clog pores and cause breakouts. Dehydration also causes the skin to lose elasticity. By just drinking more water, your skin will start to look more beauty full than ever.
7. Muscle Cramps
Muscle cramps are probably most common for athletes or people who didn’t drink enough water before working out. However, that doesn’t mean they are the only people who get muscle cramps when dehydrated. If you’re not drinking enough water, you could get a charley horse, which a painful muscle spasm that usually occurs in the legs.
8. Dark Yellow Urine
If you don’t have any health problems, one telltale sign that you’re dehydrated is that your urine is a little darker yellow than usual. If you see notice this when going to the bathroom, drink a glass of water (or two).
9. Trouble Urinating
Another obvious sign that you aren’t properly hydrated is that you haven’t peed in while. This means that your body has run out of excess fluids and you need to replenish them. Urinating is one of the main ways the body loses water, so it’s important to drink more water after you’ve gone to the bathroom.
10. High Blood Pressure
Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is always a little concerning considering if left untreated it can cause severe heart problems. Sometimes it’s caused by chronic dehydration. When white blood cells aren’t hydrated the way they should be, blood vessels start to constrict which causes blood pressure to rise.
In contrast, dehydration makes it difficult for your nervous system to stabilize your blood pressure, which makes it drop and may cause you to faint. If you feel faint, find a safe place to sit or lie down. When sitting, place your head between your knees. When you get up, do so slowly and then sip on some water. If you see someone faint and they remain unconscious for more than a minute, put them in a safe position and seek emergency medical immediately.
12. Rapid Breathing
Rapid breathing is a sign of severe dehydration. If you or someone near you experiences this, seek medical help immediately.
13. Tearless Crying
This is more relevant for parents with babies or young children. If your child is crying, but doesn’t have any tears, there’s a good chance they might be dehydrated. Babies can’t get their own drink or tell you they are thirsty, so make sure they are regularly getting fluids.
14. Fever And Chills
You might not think that a fever would indicate dehydration. However, having a fever can make you sweat profusely, cause you to become dehydrated. The higher the fever, the higher risk you have for dehydration. When you have a fever, it’s important to drink fluids and keep cool by applying ice or wet cloths and wearing cool clothes. If your fever doesn’t subside or reaches 103 degrees Fahrenheit, seek medical help.
15. Sunken Eyes
We often think of sunken eyes as a sign of aging. However, the skin beneath your eyes is very delicate and will appear dark, sunken, and hollow when you’re not properly hydrated. Children are especially susceptible to having sunken eyes when they are dehydrated. If you notice your child has sunken eyes along with diarrhea or vomiting, this could be a sign of serious dehydration and they need medical attention immediately.
Diarrhea isn’t necessarily a symptom dehydration, however it can be a cause of it. Usually diarrhea isn’t that serious, however it can become serious when you aren’t drinking enough fluids to replenish what’s lost when you go to the bathroom. If you have diarrhea and start experiencing other symptoms of dehydration, call your doctor immediately.
Like diarrhea, vomiting isn’t necessarily symptom of dehydration, but it can definitely be a cause of it. You lose a lot of fluids when you vomit and if they aren’t replaced, it can cause you to become dehydrated. When you experience nausea, it can be difficult to keep fluids down, so sip small amounts of water after vomiting and gradually increase your fluid intake once you’re able to keep the small amounts down.
19. Lethargy or Confusion
Lethargy and confusion along with lack of energy and irritability are signs of severe dehydration. If these symptoms persists, they can lead to coma.
A seizure is a rare symptom of dehydration, but should still be taken very seriously. Constant dehydration lead to electrolyte disturbances which can lead to seizures. If you’re susceptible to constant dehydration, make sure you’re drinking enough fluids throughout the day so this doesn’t happen.