How to Know if I Am Dehydrated?
Water is the main element of the human body and makes up 60-70% of its composition. Water and mineral salts (electrolytes) are essential for our body to perform its vital functions. Through daily intake of fluids and water-rich foods, we manage to maintain the water balance we need to stay hydrated. But sometimes this balance is upset, meaning we excrete more fluid than we drink, and then symptoms may appear that indicate dehydration. When these initial symptoms appear, immediate action must be taken by replenishing the body's fluid needs, because prolonged dehydration can lead to serious health problems.
In the following oneHOWTO article, we will go over the main symptoms of dehydration, so you can recognize them and take the right action.
Thirst and dry mouth
The human body is an extraordinary mechanism and naturally warns us of the need to drink fluids when it is necessary to replenish them. The feeling of thirst is the first sign that we should drink water to stop the dehydration process and its consequences. The stronger the feeling of thirst is, especially if you notice a dry or doughy mouth, the clearer the signal that we should drink water as soon as possible.
Water is essential for the proper functioning of the body. Read this other article to learn how much water you should drink per day to stay healthy.
Infrequent urination and dark urine
If you are wondering how you can tell if you are dehydrated, look at the number of times you urinate per day. A healthy adult who drinks 1.5–2 liters of water per day, the amount recommended by institutions such as the World Health Organization, urinates about every 3 – 4 hours, an average that indicates good water balance.
Less urination can be a sign of dehydration, especially if the urine is dark and not light yellow, almost clear. The urine of infants should also be monitored, because a lack of urine in the diaper for more than three hours may indicate dehydration.
Dry skin with lack of elasticity
Dry skin, even when it scales excessively, does not always have external causes such as sun exposure or wind. It can also be a sign that you are dehydrated. The lack of water causes the skin to lose its natural elasticity. Try pinching a small piece of skin on your forearm or the back of your hand and see if it quickly snaps back into place. If it does not, and the skin wrinkles, you may not be hydrated enough.
If your skin is very dry, there are other things you can do to improve the condition of your skin besides staying hydrated. If this is the case for you, read on in this article about treating dry skin with coconut oil.
Cramps and rise in body temperature
These are two symptoms of dehydration that occur primarily after significant physical exercise, where you have lost fluids and electrolytes primarily through sweating and urine. After intense exercise, it is not uncommon to feel a sensation of heat accompanied by redness of the face, indicating the need to replenish lost fluids. Cramps are also an indication of the lack of water that the muscles need for their physical recovery after exercise.
If you often suffer from cramps, you should not miss the following article, in which we explain how to solve muscle knots and cramps.
As we have already indicated, water is essential for the body to carry out all its vital functions, including the digestive process, from its beginning, the formation of the food pulp, to its end, the excretion of waste with defecation. Fiber and water play a fundamental role in proper intestinal transit, and a lack of them can slow it down and cause constipation.
If you do not want to drink water, there are many other things you can do to stay hydrated and avoid constipation, such as herbal teas. Continue reading this other article on herbal teas to prevent constipation to learn more.
Fatigue and headache
Sometimes the signs of dehydration are not easy to recognize. There are many causes that can trigger headaches and general malaise, but sometimes it is the imbalance of water that can lead to fatigue and frequent headaches. If you are going through a period of seemingly unexplained fatigue, feeling low and even a little irritable, you may not be drinking enough water that your body needs. You may also be too hot in a short period of time, your body temperature may rise sharply, and you may be dehydrated, feeling tired and having headaches.
If you suffer from frequent headaches, you might be interested in this other article, where we explain how to get rid of headaches naturally.
Dizziness, confusion, and drowsiness
Dizziness, even accompanied by nausea, drowsiness, and confusion can be symptoms of severe dehydration, which manifests when fluid loss is 5% or more. This situation requires immediate medical attention, especially if these symptoms are prolonged or if they are accompanied by increased heart rate.
How to prevent dehydration
In most cases, it is quite easy to prevent dehydration, because our body warns us of the need to drink water, and it is enough to pay attention to it by drinking water as soon as we feel thirsty. The problem is that we do not always feel it clearly, especially in the elderly. So we have to make sure that we meet our water needs taking into account our own characteristics such as age, muscle mass, physical effort.
It is also important to know that these quantities must be adjusted and increased at certain times, such as: after intense physical activity, in the hottest time of the year or during illnesses associated with fluid loss due to vomiting or diarrhea.
In addition to drinking enough fluids when required, consuming fruits and vegetables rich in water is a good way to prevent dehydration.
Juices, infusions, and broths also provide us with the fluid the body needs. On the other hand, do not forget that alcoholic beverages promote dehydration. So, to prevent it, it is better to exclude them from a healthy diet or limit their consumption.
As you may have noticed, it is essential to drink water to feel good, have energy and be adequately hydrated. Continue reading this other article on the benefits of drinking water to learn more.
This article is merely informative, oneHOWTO does not have the authority to prescribe any medical treatments or create a diagnosis. We invite you to visit your doctor if you have any type of condition or pain.
If you want to read similar articles to How to Know if I Am Dehydrated?, we recommend you visit our Family health category.
- World Health Organization (who.int) Available at: https://www.who.int/es
- EFSA | Trustworthy science for food safety (europa.eu) Available at: https://www.efsa.europa.eu/es