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Dehydration can have dangerous consequences on the body. Unfortunately, many of us don’t recognize the early symptoms of dehydration in adults. We only reach out for something to drink when we’re absolutely parched. Then too, we just take a few sips and that’s it!
The fact is, a few sips of water every now and then isn’t nearly enough to keep you hydrated. You need to be drinking water regularly to prevent dehydration symptoms and keep the body functioning smoothly.
And yes, the emphasis is on water. Infused water is the best alternative to plain water but soda doesn’t count. Soda may quench your thirst but it doesn’t keep you healthily hydrated and it’s more likely to create other health issues.
What Is Dehydration?
60% of the human body is made up of water. Water is essential for several critical bodily functions, from regulating body temperature and transporting nutrients to removing waste.
In addition to water, the body also needs electrolytes, such as sodium, potassium, and magnesium, to maintain proper fluid balance.
Dehydration occurs when the body loses more fluids faster than it’s replenished, leading to an imbalance of fluids and electrolytes.
When the body loses too much water, it can disrupt these functions and lead to dehydration.
This can happen due to a variety of reasons, including not drinking enough fluids, perspiring excessively, diarrhea, vomiting, or certain medications.
When the body doesn’t have enough water, it can’t perform these functions as efficiently, which can lead to a range of mild to severe dehydration symptoms in adults.
Mild & Severe Dehydration Symptoms In Adults
Symptoms of dehydration in adults can range from mild to severe, depending on how much fluid the body has lost. Mild dehydration symptoms can be relatively easily alleviated by drinking water. However, severe dehydration symptoms can be life-threatening and require emergency medical attention.
Mild Symptoms Of Dehydration
Thirst: Thirst is the most obvious symptom of dehydration. As the body loses fluids, it triggers a thirst response to encourage you to drink more fluids.
Fatigue: When the body is dehydrated, it can lead to a lack of energy and feelings of tiredness. This is because the body has to work harder to pump blood and transport oxygen and nutrients to the cells.
Dry mouth and throat: Dehydration can cause a dry mouth and throat, which can make it difficult to swallow or speak.
Headaches: Dehydration can cause headaches due to a decrease in blood volume and oxygen flow to the brain.
Dark urine: One of the most reliable indicators of dehydration is dark urine. When you are dehydrated, your urine will be darker in color and more concentrated than usual.
Severe Dehydration Symptoms
Dizziness or lightheadedness: Dehydration can cause a drop in blood pressure, leading to feelings of dizziness or lightheadedness.
Muscle cramps: You’re more likely to experience muscle cramps particularly in the arms and legs when you’re dehydrated.
Dry itchy skin: Lack of moisture in the cells can cause your skin to look and feel dry, flaky, and itchy.
Sunken eyes: Your eyes may appear sunken or hollow, as there is less fluid to maintain their shape.
Constipation: Dehydration can lead to constipation due to a lack of water in the digestive system, which can make it harder to pass stools.
Decreased urine output: When you are dehydrated, your body tries to conserve water by decreasing urine output. This can result in infrequent urination or even no urine output at all in severe cases.
Rapid heartbeat: When you’re dehydrated, your heart has to work harder to pump blood, leading to a rapid heartbeat or palpitations.
Fainting: Severe dehydration can cause a drop in blood pressure, which can lead to fainting or passing out.
Confusion or irritability: Dehydration can affect cognitive function, leading to confusion, irritability, or difficulty concentrating.
If left untreated, mild dehydration symptoms can become severe and lead to more serious consequences such as confusion, seizures, and even death.
It’s important to note that some of the symptoms mentioned above may also be caused by other conditions, so it’s always best to consult with a healthcare professional if you’re experiencing any concerning symptoms.
Drinking enough fluids, particularly water, and staying hydrated can help prevent dehydration and its associated symptoms.
What Causes Dehydration?
There are several ways in which dehydration can develop.
The most common causes of dehydration are:
– Not drinking enough fluids
– Excessive sweating during intense physical activity or hot humid weather
– Diarrhea and vomiting, in which the body loses large amounts of fluids and electrolytes
– Certain medications that increase urination such as diuretics, blood pressure medications, and some antidepressants
– Certain medical conditions such as diabetes that cause frequent urination
Risk Factors of Dehydration in Adults
Age: Older adults who have decreased kidney function may find it more difficult to conserve water putting them at higher risk of dehydration.
Excessive physical activity: Engaging in intense physical activity or exercising in hot sweltering weather increases the risk of dehydration due to increased sweating and fluid loss.
High-salt foods: Eating salty foods such as French fries, cured meats, and soy sauce, without increasing your fluid intake, forces the body to pull water from other cells.
Chronic medical conditions: Certain medical conditions, such as diabetes, kidney disease, and cystic fibrosis, can increase the risk of dehydration by affecting fluid balance in the body.
Alcohol consumption: Alcohol is a diuretic and can increase urine output, leading to dehydration if you don’t drink enough fluids to compensate.
Knowing the risk factors of dehydration can help you make informed decisions about what you should and shouldn’t do to minimize the risks.
If you are at higher risk of dehydration, such as if you have a chronic medical condition or are engaging in physical activity, you must take extra precautions to stay hydrated.
How To Prevent Dehydration Symptoms
Drink plenty of water: The easiest and most effective way to prevent dehydration is to drink enough water throughout the day. Aim for at least eight glasses of water per day, more in hot weather or if you engage in physical activity. Useful read: 12 Tips to Stay Healthy & Hydrated In Summer
Drink infused waters: One way to ensure that you drink enough water through the day is to switch over to infused water. This is plain water that is infused with various fruits and herbs. The fruit and herbs add flavor as well as essential micronutrients to the water. Read more about the benefits of infused water and get 25 delicious, refreshing, and healthy infused water recipes.
Eat water-rich foods: In addition to drinking fluids, you can also consume water-rich foods to help prevent dehydration. Fruits and vegetables, such as watermelon, cucumbers, and strawberries, are excellent sources of water and can help keep you hydrated.
Get plenty more useful, practical tips on how to stay hydrated without drinking water.
Wear the right clothing when working out: When exercising or engaging in any physical activity, particularly in hot weather, it’s advisable to wear breathable, light-colored clothing. This type of clothing allows the sweat to evaporate while also allowing air to circulate so your body doesn’t overheat. Taking adequate breaks to rest and rehydrate is just as important.
Be aware of risk factors: If you are at higher risk of dehydration, such as if you have a chronic medical condition or are engaging in physical activity, it’s important to take extra precautions to stay hydrated. This may include drinking more fluids or taking breaks to rest and rehydrate.
Avoid alcohol and caffeine: Alcohol and caffeine are both diuretics and can increase urine output, leading to dehydration if you don’t drink enough fluids to compensate. Avoiding or limiting these substances can help prevent dehydration.
Stay cool: If you are in hot weather, it’s important to stay cool and avoid excessive sweating. Seek shade or air conditioning when possible, and wear a hat or use an umbrella to protect yourself from the sun.
The first step towards staying hydrated and healthy is recognizing the symptoms of dehydration in adults.
If you are experiencing symptoms of dehydration but are not sure or you have questions about your hydration status, it’s important to talk to your healthcare provider.
Disclaimer: This information is not intended to serve as medical advice. Please consult your doctor before using any natural medication or if you experience any unusual symptoms. See Full Disclaimer here.