How To Tell If You Are Dehydrated
With the December holidays fast approaching, keeping well-hydrated usually takes the back seat in terms of priority; we’re out shopping, eating good food and relaxing by the pool. Becoming dehydrated is unbelievably easy, and can cause serious health issues if not treated in time and properly.
Here are some tips to tell if you or a loved one is dehydrated, and how to quickly remedy it:
Causes of Dehydration
- Vigorous exercise: Intense exercise leads to fluid loss through sweat. If fluids are not replaced by drinking water, you can become dehydrated.
- Exposure to heat: Heat can cause you to lose fluid through sweat. You may become dehydrated if you don’t drink extra water when it’s very hot outside.
- Vomiting and diarrhoea: Vomiting and diarrhoea both cause significant fluid loss that can lead to dehydration.
- Nausea: Many people don’t feel like eating or drinking when they are nauseated. It’s important to continue drinking water so you don’t become dehydrated.
- Burns or skin infections: Water can be lost through severe burns and skin infections.
- Diabetes: When blood sugar levels are high, the body increases urine production to eliminate sugar from the body. This can lead to dehydration if this loss is not matched with an increase in water consumption.
- Fever: A fever may contribute to fluid loss through sweating.
Symptoms of Dehydration
Thirst is a craving for fluid that serves as an automatic reminder to drink water – it is often the body’s first indicator that it needs more water.
For most people, drinking when they’re thirsty is an effective method for staying hydrated.
However, there are some situations in which thirst might not be a reliable indicator of hydration status.
For example, older people may need to consciously manage their fluid intake, as your sense of thirst tends to decline with age.
In addition, you may need to drink beyond simply satisfying your thirst if you are sweating profusely. For example, intense exercise and exposure to high temperatures can cause you to lose a large amount of water through sweat.
- Changes in the Color or Amount of Your Urine
Your urine can tell you a lot about your hydration status, since it accounts for the majority of the fluid that leaves your body.
Thus, controlling the amount and composition of urine is one way in which the body is able to maintain proper fluid balance.
Urine, which is produced by the kidneys, consists of both water and waste products that your body needs to eliminate.
If you are dehydrated, the kidneys conserve water by concentrating urine. This allows waste to be eliminated while retaining water for important biological functions.
On the other hand, cloudy, dark yellow urine is a sign of dehydration. A honey-yellow colour may indicate mild dehydration, while a deep, amber-yellow colour with a strong odour can signal severe dehydration.
Keep in mind that certain foods, medications and medical conditions can also influence the colour and amount of urine. If your urine is consistently a colour other than pale yellow, you should consult your doctor.
- Fatigue or Sleepiness
Fatigue or tiredness can have many different causes, but dehydration can be one of them.
Many studies have shown that dehydration causes fatigue and decreases endurance during exercise.
For this reason, drinking an adequate amount of water is particularly important during exercise.
However, you don’t have to be exercising to experience dehydration-related fatigue.
In a study of young, healthy women, water restriction for 24 hours caused sleepiness, confusion, fatigue and decreased alertness.
All of these symptoms improved when the women were allowed to freely drink water at the conclusion of the 24-hour period.
This amount of fluid loss can easily occur during normal daily activities if you’re not drinking an adequate amount of fluid throughout the day.
Dehydration may trigger headaches or migraines in some people.
One study found that a fluid loss of 1.4 percent of body weight caused headaches and moodiness in healthy women.
Fortunately, evidence shows that headaches caused by dehydration can be relieved by drinking water.
Keep in mind that there are many different types of headaches and they are not all caused by a lack of hydration.
- Changes in Skin Elasticity
Dehydration can cause changes to the appearance and texture of your skin.
Your skin is made up of approximately 30 percent water, which is responsible for its fullness and elasticity.
Healthy, well-hydrated skin will return to its normal shape after being pulled and stretched. This elastic nature of skin is known as skin turgor.
On the other hand, when the body is dehydrated, fluid is pulled away from the skin and diverted to major organs to keep them functioning properly. This shift of fluid away from the skin causes it to lose its elasticity.
To test the elasticity of your skin, pinch your skin between your thumb and your forefinger.
If you are well hydrated, your skin should snap back immediately after being released. If it takes a half a second or more for your skin to return to its shape, you may be dehydrated (5, 19, 20).
In addition, a lack of fluid in the skin can cause dryness and make skin feel cool and clammy to the touch.
Remedies for Dehydration
Adults and children age 12 and older
Stop your activity and rest.
Get out of direct sunlight and lie down in a cool spot, such as in the shade or an air-conditioned area.
Prop up your feet.
Take off any extra clothes.
Drink a rehydration drink, water, juice, or sports drink to replace fluids and minerals. Drink 2 qt (2 L) of cool liquids over the next 2 to 4 hours. You should drink at least 10 glasses of liquid a day to replace lost fluids.
New-borns and babies younger than 1 year of age
Don’t wait until you see signs of dehydration in your baby. These signs include your baby being thirstier than usual and having less urine than usual.
If you breastfeed your baby, nurse him or her more often. Offer each breast to your baby for 1 to 2 minutes every 10 minutes.
If you use a bottle to feed your baby, increase the number of feedings to make up for lost fluids. The amount of extra fluid your baby needs depends on your baby’s age and size. For example, a new-born may need as little as 30 mL at each extra feeding, while a 12-month-old baby may need as much as 90 mL at each extra feeding.
Ask your doctor if you need to use an oral rehydration solution (ORS) if your baby still isn’t getting enough fluids from formula or the breast. The amount of ORS your baby needs depends on your baby’s age and size. You can give the ORS in a dropper, spoon, or bottle.
If your baby has started eating cereal, you may replace lost fluids with cereal. You also may feed your baby strained bananas and mashed potatoes if your child has had these foods before.
h/t to ecowatch for this info!