12 Warning Signs Of Dehydration

By:    Published: June 27, 2012

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Whether you’re exercising, spending time in the summer sun or are feeling under the weather, you can easily become dehydrated if you don’t take in enough fluids. Once dehydration has set in, the body slowly begins to shut down, eventually causing problems such as kidney failure, seizures and brain swelling. Fortunately, your body will tell you that you’re dehydrated before you get to that stage, by displaying one or more of the following warning signs.

Dry Mouth

One of the early signs of dehydration is a dry mouth. This typically includes dry or cracked lips, difficulty swallowing and a heavy tongue that sticks to the bottom of your mouth. A dry mouth can be pretty uncomfortable and usually makes people want to drink for that very reason.

Fatigue

Fatigue is another common sign of dehydration, so if you feel tired after a workout or sluggish while working in the afternoon, it may be because you haven’t had enough to drink. If you have had plenty of water and still feel dehydrated, you may have adrenal fatigue, which actually causes dehydration. Those who have this condition need to drink about one-half to one gallon of water each day. If you often feel fatigued after drinking a lot, you may want to consult with your doctor.

Thirst

This may seem like an obvious symptom, but when you’re dehydrated, you become thirsty. It’s just your body’s way of urging you to drink. On average, a woman should drink about nine glasses of fluid per day while a man should drink about 12 glasses of fluid per day.

Difficulty Going To The Bathroom

Constipation and difficulty urinating are two more common symptoms of dehydration. In children and adults, this means going eight or more hours without urinating and for infants, this means going three or more hours without a wet diaper. Cramps may also accompany these symptoms.

Flushed Skin

If you notice that your skin is slightly red, it may be because you are dehydrated. However, if you’ve been exercising for a while or have spent some time in the sun, your skin may be flushed anyway, so be sure to look for other warning signs that accompany this warning sign. However, if your skin feels dry and is usually so, this may be a sign of chronic dehydration.

Headache

Many headaches are caused by dehydration and this is especially true for children and teens. So if you feel a headache coming on, don’t pop an aspirin – drink some water instead.

Rapid Breathing

Just as a dog pants when it is dehydrated, a human will begin to breathe rapidly when he or she is dehydrated. This is actually a symptom of severe dehydration and may be accompanied by an increased heart rate.

Dizziness And Difficulty Concentrating

Dizziness, lightheadedness and vertigo are all symptoms of severe dehydration and are usually caused by a lack of blood in the brain. Severe dehydration can also cause confusion and can make it difficult to concentrate. Once these symptoms have developed, it’s important to seek medical attention right away.

Nausea

When you’re nauseous, you usually don’t feel like ingesting anything, but when it comes to dehydration, ingesting fluids is a must. Nausea is another symptom of severe dehydration, which requires medical attention. It’s also a common warning sign for pregnant women who are dehydrated.

Aggravation And Depression

If you find yourself feeling down in the dumps at your desk or snapping at co-workers for no reason, it may be because you are dehydrated. Try getting some water to see if it makes you feel better and don’t forget to make regular stops at the water-cooler to give yourself a break while staying hydrated.

Poor Skin Turgor

Skin turgor refers to the elasticity of your skin. Normally, when you pinch your skin, it falls right back into place once you let go of it. But if you have poor skin turgor, your skin will take longer to fall back into place. The skin turgor test is a good indicator of dehydration and is often used by doctors when identifying a patient with dehydration.

Urine Color

By far, the best indicator of dehydration is the color of your urine. Your urine should actually be clear; if it isn’t, that means that you haven’t taken in enough fluids. How much are you lacking? The color will actually tell you. If the urine is a dark color, that’s a sign of severe dehydration. But if the urine is a lighter color, that’s a sign of mild dehydration. Either way, if your urine isn’t clear, it’s time to pour yourself a glass of water.

To learn more about urine color and dehydration, read Important Things Your Urine Color Can Tell You.)

Obviously, to treat dehydration, you need to get more fluids, primarily water. But the key is to drink slowly, or else you’ll induce vomiting or exacerbate the other symptoms of dehydration. If your infant is dehydrated, feed her one teaspoonful of liquid at a time. Popsicles and electrolyte solutions may also be helpful for little ones. For severe dehydration, a hospital stay will most likely be needed.

Although dehydration can easily occur when you’re sick or spending time in the sun, it can be just as easy to prevent. All you need to do is just keep drinking!

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