Dehydration can have dire consequences if left untreated that extend to unconsciousness, coma, organ failure, and even death. Dehydration is a condition where the body does not have enough water to properly function. In most cases it can be avoided by increasing water intake. However, the condition doesn’t always showcase symptoms before it hits: the first symptoms can be fatal.
Dehydration is caused primarily by sweating too much which is commonly brought on by exercising in hot weather. Other causes include fever, vomiting, diarrhea, and too frequent urination. People who drink an insufficient amount of fluids can also get dehydrated. They may not drink enough because of stomach irritation from sickness, nausea, or a sore throat.
People who have a heart condition, are seeking cardiology services at a heart center, are overweight, have kidney problems, have diabetes, are under the age of two, or over the age of 50 are more prone to dehydration and should pay extra attention to water consumption.
1) Thirst and dry mouth
A thirsty person is a dehydrated person. Dry mouth also frequently accompanies thirst. So if you are feeling thirsty or have dry mouth take it as a sign you need to drink some water. However, you should continue to drink water even when you’re not thirsty because it’s possible to alleviate your thirst without avoiding dehydration.
2) Lightheadedness, muscle cramps, and weakness
When your body is dehydrated it compensates by constricting blood vessels and increasing the heart rate to maintain constant blood pressure. The body also redirects blood away from skin to internal organs like the brain and lungs. However, this defense will begin to fail as dehydration worsens. Symptoms like lightheadedness, muscle cramps, and general weakness are indications that the body is failing to compensate for dehydration.
3) Nausea and vomiting
Nausea and vomiting are particularly bad because they can cause the situation to get worse. A person who is experiencing nausea can have a more difficult time consuming fluids and a person who vomits will lose fluids quickly.
4) No longer sweating, producing tears, or urinating
Gauging your urine color—the lighter the more hydrated, the darker the less hydrated—is an effective way to test for dehydration. However, if your body is no longer producing urine it is a bad sign. If your body stops sweating while you’re working out or is no longer able to produce tears, it’s a sign you are dehydrated and moving towards heat exhaustion.
Moderate to severe dehydration symptoms
People get cranky when they are experiencing substantial dehydration. This is a particularly important warning sign for children as they may have a more difficult time understanding when they are suffering from dehydration symptoms than adults. Children who have lost between 3 and 10 percent of their body weight in fluids will exhibit the symptoms of mild dehydration and may be fussy, irritable, and tired.
6) Rapid heartbeat and breathing
A hydrated body is able to pump blood more easily throughout the body than a dehydrated one. Your heart actually has to work harder to provide oxygen across your body when dehydrated, which means the heart is going to beat much faster than usual and your lungs are going to need to take in more oxygen.
7) Sunken eyes
The appearance of sunken eyes is a sign of substantial dehydration. For obvious reasons, this isn’t a symptom you could be experiencing that’s immediately apparent to you unless you have a mirror or someone else points it out.
If a person starts exhibiting symptoms of delirium, including restlessness, incoherent thoughts, unintelligible speech, and seeing illusions, they are likely experiencing extreme dehydration. This is among the most severe symptoms that can occur before the body starts to break down and permanent damage can occur.
Preventing and treating dehydration
Water is the best thing to drink while fruits and vegetables (because of their high water concentration) are the best things to eat. The body requires between 48 and 64 fluid ounces of water every day; however, people who sweat more need to drink more water to compensate. Electrolyte-added sports drinks are helpful for people in specific situations where the temperature is very high and the exercise is notably intense. Drinks with caffeine in them, as well as fruit juices, soda, and sugary drinks should all be avoided. Caffeine is a diuretic which causes your body to expunge fluids whereas sweet drinks can be hard on your stomach when dehydrated. You can help prevent dehydration by taking breaks in exposure to high temperatures in cooler areas and wear light-colored, loose-fitting clothing when outside. Also, avoid alcohol consumption.
Preventative approaches can be extremely effective. A good way to gauge how much water you need to consume when exercising is to weigh yourself before and after working out. Each pound you drop equates to a pint of water.