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Do You Recognize the 9 Warning Signs of Dehydration?

We know that water is a critical component of the body. Up to about 70% of our body's weight is water. If we lose water even by a few percent, we become dehydrated.

Dehydration happens when you have lost to much water and not drinking enough to stay hydrated.

Image courtesy of graur razvan ionut /

We regularly lose water when we:

  • Breathe in/out humidified air like on a cold day and you can see your breath in the air.
  • Eliminate waste (urinating or bowel movement)
  • Excessive urinating due to uncontrolled diabetes or diuretic use.
  • Sweat to cool the body from exercise

When we lose to much fluid it can affect body functions such as: digestion and chemical balance. Dehydration can easily creep up on you, it does not happen all at once. It usually happens over time and may take hours to slowly correct the fluid lost.

Dehydration can be mild, moderate, or severe depending on how much fluid the body has lost. You really don't want to wait until you are severely dehydrated
because it can be life-threatening.

Fortunately, your body will let you know when you are dehydrated before it gets to the point where it is severe. So, it is important to recognize these 9 warning signs of dehydration.

1. Dry Mouth

This can include dry or cracked lips, a heavy tongue that sticks to the
bottom of your mouth and difficulty swallowing.

2. Eyes stop making tears

Can you imagine not being able to make tears? Well, it can happen if you are severely dehydrated. Your eyes will stop making tears. Also, in severe dehydration, the will look sunken.

3. Sweating may stop

Another important sign of dehydration is when a person stops sweating. We know that sweating is important to cooling or maintaining your body temperature while you exercise or while working outside in warm or hot weather.

If any chance you are out in the heat, it's important to get to a cool place out of the heat. Slowly, drink water to replenish the fluids.

4. Muscle Cramps

Muscle cramps can happen while you are working outside in the hot sun or exercising. We, sometimes, call them - heat cramps. This happens when the body is trying to cool itself by sweating, which can lead to dehydration to the point where your muscles may go into a spasm.

5. Nausea and Vomiting

You can lose too much fluids from nausea & vomiting. If this is the case, you may not be able to keep fluid on your stomach because of the intense vomiting.

So, replacing water by drinking it could be difficult.

What do you do?

You will have begin fluid replacements as soon as vomiting starts, but do it little by little.

6. Heart Palpitations

When dehydrated you may experience irregular heart beats due to the loss of electrolytes from the body through either sweating, diarrhea and vomiting.

Electrolytes has important chemicals like sodium, potassium and chloride.

Heart palpitations can occur due to either low or high potassium.

7. Lightheaded (especially when standing)

If loss of fluid increases in cases where a person has heat exhaustion - they can have feeling of being faint. This happens when your blood pressure will drop when you go from lying down to standing up.

8. Weakness

When severe dehydration sets in you will have a feeling of weakness because
less blood is getting to the brain and other body organs.

Also, you could experience dizziness and difficulty concentrating.

9. Decreased urine output

If you ever get to this point where you have dark urine or your urine output has decreased, then you have become severely dehydrated.

In fact, dark urine is the best indicator of dehydration.

Your urine should be clear. So, if you are not drinking enough water signs will show up in your urine being dark.

You will need to restore electrolytes by drinking fruit juice and eating a salty snack in order to replace the sugar and salts your body has lost.

Some power drinks like Gatorade, is very helpful in restoring electrolytes lost due to dehydration.

Preventing Dehydration

Sometimes we think just because we are healthy and in good shape we don't need to drink as much water. That can be farthest from the truth. Even for healthy individuals, it's vital to drink plenty of fluids every day. Especially, when the weather is hot or you are exercising, you will need to drink even more liquids.

If you or someone you know happens to be sick, it's important to drink fluids to stay hydrated. The need is greater with a fever, vomiting, or diarrhea.

And remember, the easiest way to monitor dehydration is urine output.

› Dehydration

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