Seventy percent of the human body consists of water and the human brain tissue is said to consist of nearly 85% water. Water is required in the human body to keep it healthy and function efficiently. When the amount of water intake matches the amount of water that is excreted then the body’s water supply will be balanced. The required quantity of fluid in our body does vary. When your body lacks sufficient fluids, dehydration takes place. Depending on the quantity of fluids lost, dehydration can be severe, medium or mild. Serious dehydration can be fatal.
The body attempts to deal with dehydration by first stimulating the thirst centers of the brain that stimulates us to drink water. However, if our water intake cannot keep up with the water loss then the body will attempt to do things that decrease the loss of water. These cause the tell-tale signs of dehydration. Dehydration is more common among the elderly, infants and children.
The following are some indicators that you may be dehydrated irrespective of the weather.
Signs of Dehydration
The early stages of dehydration may not produce pronounced signs and symptoms, but the person will experience dryness of mouth and thirst. Other signs are:
A gluey mouth or increased thirstiness
You are dehydrated if you feel the urge to drink water. Although you should avoid getting to this point, the quickest treatment option is to begin consuming more water.
Disorientation or headaches
A migraine, delirium, headache or light headed feelings can be a result of dehydration. Because the body lacks sufficient fluids to send to other parts of the body; nausea, feebleness or faintness can occur. Heat exhaustion can also result from this. If you are exercising and begin to feel extreme fatigue, stop immediately and relax.
The concentration and production of urine
Athletes who want monitor their hydration levels are advised to observe the color of their urine, and its quantity. If your body is closer to dehydration, the production of urine will increase and sometimes it will be excessively dilute. During hypohydration, the production of urine will decrease, and the color will be more concentrated.
The color of urine can be a good sign of your body’s hydration level, just like changes in body weight.
In infants, this means no wet nappies for 3 hours and for older children and teenagers, no urination for eight hours or more.
One disadvantage of gauging your hydration status by urine quantity and color, is that it does not address the negative aspect of excessive fluid consumption.
Changes in your body weight
Variations in hydration levels are gauged by changes by temporal changes in your body.
This technique shows that severe loss of fluid is related to severe weight loss. This assumption is often times correct. At times there are huge fluctuations in fluid consumption and retention in a short span of time. For instance, during or after sweating, you consume 2 liters of water to make up for what you just lost. Although this water can stay in your stomach and appear on the scales, not all of it will be taken in by your body and it will eventually come out as urine, and would not play a big role in hydrating your body.
Dry Skin and Lips
Skin elasticity is a medical assessment of hydration. The best way to test this is the skin test. Pull the skin on the back of your wrist and then let go. The skin should get back to its normal position in a couple of seconds. If the pulled skin stays pinched and then slowly returns to its normal position, then this is a sign you are dehydrated The skin also becomes dry because it is not evaporating as well, so you can also experience flushing of the skin.
In babies and children noticeable signs include having cold, bluish skin and sunken fontanel. It is important to seek immediate medical care for anyone you suspect may be experiencing severe dehydration, as this constitutes a medical emergency.
Fury, confusion and fatigue
According to studies, your intellectual function and your mood can be mildly affected by dehydration levels. This particularly affects elderly people and children more frequently.
No sweating or muscle cramps
It's okay for your legs to feel exhausted if you have been exercising, but if it is more severe it could be muscle cramps, a known indicator of dehydration. This is accredited to the loss of salt and water by your body. Instead of cramping you may feel stiffness in your muscles.
Another severe indicator of dehydration is a lack of sweat. This indicates your body very much requires water. Although it can be an indicator of heat stroke or overheating, both situations are due to excessive sweating. It is important to quickly cool down if you are not producing sweat anymore.
Fever and chills
This may sound surprising, but if your body is severely dehydrated you may experience symptoms like fever or even chills. Fever can be especially dangerous, so be sure to seek immediate medical help if your fever rises over 101°F.
Being constantly hungry and craving for sweets is a symptom that your body is in need of hydration. Constantly craving sugar is a serious sign that your body needs water. Finding it difficult to fall asleep could be a way of your body telling you that it is not getting enough water. Having bad breath can also be a sign of being dehydrated especially if you are very meticulous about brushing and flossing. Sunken eyes apart from indicating lack of sleep could also signify dehydration.
If you notice any of the signs of dehydration mentioned above, then do not ignore it. If dehydration continues and a fluid loss of 5% occurs, the symptoms can quickly become much more serious. A fluid loss of 10% is considered extreme and medical help must be obtained immediately. Remember, our bodies lose water during the day through bodily functions. Hence, it is of vital importance that we remain well-hydrated, especially in hot weather and when we are physically active.
- You are already dehydrated if you feel the urge to drink water
- One disadvantage of gauging your hydration status by use of urine’s quantity and color is that it does not address the negative aspect of excessive fluid consumption
- Depending on the quantity of fluids lost, dehydration can be severe, medium or mild