As an avid lover of the outdoors, I remember learning long ago, “By the time you realize you feel thirsty, you are already dehydrated.” I have remembered that for years and actively pass on that information and dehydration tips to everyone– from my outdoor education summer camp students to the adults I work with as a health coach.
It is actually a lot easier to become dehydrated than you may think. Water makes up more than half our body weight. Each day you lose water from tasks you don’t even think about–going to the bathroom, sweating, and even breathing! You lose water faster when the weather is hot, when you are physically active, or when you are sick with a fever. In addition, vomiting and having diarrhea while sick can also lead to losing the water in your body at a rapid rate. If you don’t quickly replace the water lost under these circumstances, you can easily become dehydrated.
Additionally, some people are more at risk for dehydration–people who exercise at a high intensity for a long time (or in hot weather), those who have certain medical conditions like kidney stones or bladder infections, those sick (fever, vomiting, diarrhea), women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, those who aren’t able to get enough fluids during the day, or those trying to lose weight. Older adults may also be at a higher risk because as we age, the brain may not be able to sense dehydration or send signals for thirst. If any of these categories apply to you, be extra cautious.
If you don’t follow my above tips for staying hydrated and find yourself wondering if you are, in fact, dehydrated, read below to learn some signs of dehydration.
These signs include:
- Having little to no urine or urinating very infrequently throughout the day
- Sleepiness or fatigue
- Urine that is darker than usual (darker yellow or brown, sometimes accompanied with a smell)
- Dry mouth
- Extreme thirst
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- No tears when crying
It is usually pretty easy to reverse the signs of dehydration rather quickly by drinking a clean source of water immediately. However, sometimes dehydration can be a more serious problem. Severe dehydration from a heat-related injury, swelling of the brain, seizures, low blood volume shock, kidney failure, or coma may lead to a need for medical assistance. If left untreated, severe dehydration may lead to death.
So now that you are bit more clear on how to avoid dehydration, do yourself a favor and listen to this advice. Your body will thank you for it 🙂