Chronic dehydration stresses our organs and can interfere with bodily functions leading in some cases to illness, irritability, fatigue, difficulty focusing and more. Hot weather and physical activity deplete our body’s water, making drinking water essential in warm climates, especially during summer months, and before, during and after exercise. So unless you’re on a fluid-restricted regimen prescribed by a healthcare professional, you should be drinking up on a regular basis.
Below are some simple signs to look for that could indicate you’re dehydrated:
- You’re thirsty
- Your skin and mouth are dry
- You have a headache
- You’re dizzy or lightheaded
- Your urine is dark yellow
- You feel sluggish and foggy brained
- You’re constipated
- You constantly crave snacks and sugar
- In extreme cases, you might experience confusion, palpitations, fainting, weakness, decreased urination and in severe cases, seizures. These symptoms require immediate medical attention.
Of course all of the above can be caused by a variety of things, but even mild dehydration can have a more negative effect on your physical and mental well-being then most of us realize. Plus, the older we get, the more prone we are to dehydration with serious consequences.
Severe dehydration, a medical emergency, can cause:
- Extreme thirst
- Extreme fussiness or sleepiness in infants and children; irritability and confusion in adults
- Very dry mouth, skin and mucous membranes
- Little or no urination — any urine that is produced will be darker than normal
- Sunken eyes
- Shriveled and dry skin that lacks elasticity and doesn’t “bounce back” when pinched into a fold
- In infants, sunken fontanels — the soft spots on the top of a baby’s head
- Low blood pressure
- Rapid heartbeat
- Rapid breathing
- No tears when crying
- In the most serious cases, delirium or unconsciousness
Get immediate medical care if you develop severe signs and symptoms such as extreme thirst, a lack of urination, shriveled skin, dizziness and confusion.
A good guide for whether you’re well hydrated is the color and concentration of your urine. If it’s pale yellow like lemonade, you’re probably getting enough. If it’s darker yellow and appears more concentrated, you probably need to drink more. If your urine is clear and colorless, you’re probably drinking too much water and should slow down on the water drinking.
Good hydration on a regular basis will keep you physically and mentally at your best, today and for years to come. And remember to always check with your healthcare provider about proper fluid intake if you have a medical condition before dramatically increasing how much water you drink.