How To Tell If You Are Dehydrated: 11 Early And Warning Signs

Your body needs water daily to function well. We should stay hydrated to help our bodies to move, breathe, digest, and do other vital bodily functions. The human body loses fluids throughout the day by sweating, peeing, breathing, and exercising. You can easily replenish fluid loss by drinking enough water and eating food that is high in water content. Usually, it’s super easy to tell if you are dehydrated by noticing some common symptoms.

If your skin becomes dry or you feel thirsty or hungry all the time, this could be a sign of being dehydrated. Also, having headaches or nausea can be an early symptom of dehydration.

Dehydration can be mild, moderate, or severe depending on the fluids that your body loses. Severe dehydration requires medical attention as it’s a serious health issue. But if you have mild to moderate dehydration, you can replenish lost liquid by drinking more fluids.

Anyone at any age can become dehydrated when they don’t drink enough water as the percentage of water in the human body is up to 60%. Also, infants, children, and older adults are more vulnerable to dehydration. Children usually experience diarrhea, fever, and vomiting which causes dehydration. As for older people, they may take medications that can make their bodies lose too much water.

Certain health problems include lung infections, diabetes, or bladder infections can increase the risk of being dehydrated. Also, athletes are at greater risk to become dehydrated as they lose fluids through sweat when they work out for long periods.

So your body warns you when you need to drink more water by causing some signs and symptoms. These signs include:

How To Tell If You Are Dehydrated?

How To Tell If You Are Dehydrated: 11 Early And Warning Signs

Common signs and symptoms of dehydration in adults include:

1- Thirst And Food Cravings

Feeling thirsty means that you’re dehydrated and your body needs more fluids. Also, food cravings for salty food or sweets could be a sign of dehydration.

Cravings for sweets could be because your body needs to release glucose in the bloodstream to give you energy. Your body could be unable to release glucose due to dehydration so it tries to replenish this issue by making you eat sweets.

A medical study has linked between dehydration and body weight. The study found that dehydrated adults usually have higher body weight. But we need more studies to confirm the results. So drinking enough water per day may help curb your cravings.

2- Headaches

A study showed that being dehydrated by 1.36% can cause headaches in females. So even mild dehydration may trigger headaches. To ease headache pain, keep drinking water during the day. This helps also your body to perform better.

3- Dark Urine

How To Tell If You Are Dehydrated: 11 Early And Warning Signs

If your urine is dark, this could be a sign of mild to severe dehydration. You may also urinate less than three times a day if your body doesn’t get enough water. The normal color of urine is light yellow or straw-colored. So you should drink enough fluids per day to keep your body well hydrated.

4- Dry Or Flushed Skin

In winter our skin becomes dry as it loses moisture due to dry air. Also, your skin feels rough or tight in summer due to sweating. Moreover, your lips may become cracked and dry when you don’t drink water. To keep your skin healthy in winter and summer, you should consume enough fluids. If your body is well hydrated, your skin will appear doughy and soft.

Skin And Nail Test

To tell if you are dehydrated, Pinch your skin with two fingers to make a tent shape and wait to see what happens next. If it takes some time to get back to normal, this means that you need to drink more water. But If your skin remains tented after pinching, this is a sign of having severe dehydration.

Also, your nails can help you know if you are dehydrated. Pinch your nail bed until it becomes white then release. Usually, it takes 1-3 seconds for color to return to the nail bed. If your body doesn’t get enough water, it will take a longer time to get back to normal.

5- Constipation

Water is essential to help your body digest food well and push waste to move through the digestive tract. When you don’t drink enough fluids per day, the digestive system won’t work as it should be and this will cause constipation.

Stop drinking water may also cause changes in bowel habits. your body may go for days without regular bowel movements. And your stool may appear dry or look like small hard lumps.

6- Bad Breath

When you don’t drink water for a long period, your mouth feels dry and your body won’t be able to make enough saliva. Saliva reduces bacteria from overgrowth due to its antibacterial properties. So when your mouth makes less saliva, you will probably have bad breath. So stay hydrated to get rid of bad breath.

7- Nausea

How To Tell If You Are Dehydrated: 11 Early And Warning Signs

Nausea and dizziness are also common signs of dehydration. Having nausea can make you vomit which means you’ll lose more water. This can worsen the condition and makes you feel sicker.

You may also feel lightheaded or you’re about to pass out at any moment when you don’t drink enough fluids. Dehydration can cause blood pressure and blood volume to drop which might cause nausea and fainting.

8- Blood Pressure

When your body doesn’t get enough water, this can affect blood pressure as plasma ( the liquid part of the blood ) is about 90% water. According to the American Heart Association, being dehydrated can cause blood pressure to drop.

9- Brain Function

About 70% of your brain is water which means that you should drink enough fluids daily to help your brain function well. A study showed mild dehydration can increase anxiety, stress, and fatigue in men. Also, spending hours in the heat without drinking water can affect concentration.

Another study found that water loss can cause concentration and memory problems. It affects also your vision and makes you cause more driving mistakes. And it worsens your mood as dehydration can make you feel depressed or irritated.

10- Heart Problems

A woman drink a bottle of water after exercising

An increase in heart rate and quick breathing could be an indication of severe dehydration. Losing fluids can decrease blood volume and make your body lose electrolytes. This means that your heart will have difficulty pumping blood through the body.

According to MedlinePlus, being dehydrated is a sign that your body is losing electrolytes not just fluids. Electrolytes are responsible for moving nutrients into your cells, balance the amount of water in the body, and keep muscles, heart, and brain function well.

What you can do is to rehydrate your body to help return the heart rate to normal so your heart can work well again.

11- Pain And Tiredness

You may tell if you’re dehydrated when you feel tired or fatigued. A study showed that dehydration can cause tiredness in men. Also, low blood pressure due to dehydration can cause a feeling of tiredness.

Another study found that you may feel more pain when you don’t consume enough water per day. The study showed that when participants drank fluids, they felt much better.

How To Tell Your Infant Or Young Child Is Dehydrated:

A beautiful girl drinks water with her mother

Infants and children are more prone to dehydration due to their small size. You may be able to tell if your child is dehydrated when you notice the following:

  • Dry diapers for three hours.
  • Dry mouth.
  • Fever.
  • Difficulty sleeping.
  • Sunken eyes.
  • The infant keeps crying without tears.

So if you notice these symptoms in your child, you should contact the child’s doctor right away.

The Takeaway

Dehydration can be treated by drinking enough fluids per day and eating food that is rich in water. There are common signs that can help you know if your body needs more water. Bad breath, dark urine, and headaches can be caused by dehydration. Drinking water per day can help ease constipation and nausea. You may also experience heart and brain problems due to water loss. Moreover, taking some medications can dehydrate your body.

Having fever or diarrhea make your body lose too much water which can cause or worsen dehydration. If you’re taking medications or having an illness that might make your body lose more water, consult a doctor right away. Also, severe dehydration requires medical attention as it’s a life-threatening health issue.