What are First Signs of Dehydration?

Wake Forest Dehydration occurs when the amount of water and fluids leaving the body is greater than the amount that is entering. Even low levels of dehydration can cause symptoms such as headaches, lethargy, and constipation.

The human body is made up of nearly 75 percent water. Without the right amount of water, the body is unable to function properly. Water is found inside the cells, within blood vessels, and in between cells.

A sophisticated water management system balanced water, and our thirst triggers notify us when we need consume more fluid.

While water is constantly lost throughout the day during normal activities such as breathing, sweating, urinating, and defecating, we are able to replenish the water by drinking fluids. The body can also distribute water throughout the body to areas where it is needed most when there are signs of dehydration.

Most cases of dehydration can be easily reversed by drinking more fluid. However, severe cases of dehydration are critical and require immediate medical attention.

Quick facts regarding dehydration

  • Water makes up about three-quarters of the human body
  • Causes of dehydration can include diarrhea, vomiting, and sweating
  • People who are at a higher risk of dehydration include infants, children athletes, people in higher altitudes, and older adults
  • Some of the early symptoms of dehydration are a dry mouth, feeling lethargic, and dizziness

The initial symptoms of dehydration typically include thirst, dark urine, and reduced levels of urine production. The color of your urine is actually one of the best indicators of your hydration level. Clear and odorless urine indicates that you are well hydrated while darker and fragrant urine indicates dehydration.

It is possible, especially in older adults, for dehydration to occur without the feeling of thirst. It is always important to drink sufficient amounts of water when you are ill, physically active or during exposure to hot weather.

As dehydration progresses from mild to moderate, the symptoms typically include:

  • Dry mouth
  • Lethargic
  • Muscle weakness
  • Headache
  • Dizziness

Severe dehydration, which is defined as the loss of 10-15 percent of the body’s water, is characterized by extreme versions of the normal symptoms. Severe dehydration includes:

  • Lack of sweating
  • Sunken eyes or cheeks
  • Dry skin
  • Low blood pressure
  • Increased heart rate
  • Fever
  • Delirium
  • Fainting

Symptoms of dehydration in children and infants includes:

  • A sunken soft spot on the top of the head
  • Dry tongue and mouth
  • Irritable
  • No production of tears when crying
  • Sunken cheeks and eyes
  • No wet diapers for 3 hours or more

The basic cause of dehydration is not consuming enough water, losing too much water, or a combination of both.

At times it is difficult to consume enough water because we are too busy, lack access to water or don’t have the strength and desire to drink. In some cases, we may be in an area without access to potable water such as hiking, boating or camping. Additional causes of dehydration include:

  1. Diarrhea: the most common cause of dehydration and death related to dehydration is diarrhea. The large intestine absorbs water from food you consume. Diarrhea prevents absorption of water from taking place. The body excretes too much water which results in dehydration.
  2. Vomiting: this leads to a loss of fluids and makes it difficult to replace enough water by drinking it.
  3. Fever and sweating: the body releases a significant amount of water through sweat. When the weather is hot and humid in addition to vigorous physical activity can compound the loss of fluid from sweat. In addition, a fever can cause an increase in the amount of sweat and may cause dehydration. This is especially dangerous when a fever is combined with diarrhea and vomiting.
  4. Diabetes: high blood sugar levels can cause more frequent urination and the loss of fluid.
  5. Frequent urination: this is commonly caused by uncontrolled diabetes. It also can be related to alcohol consumption and medications including diuretics, antihistamines, blood pressure medications, and antipsychotics.

More on Dehydration : How Long Does Dehydration Last?