Physical Signs of Dehydration

When your body doesn’t get enough water, dehydration sets in. Lacking this essential nutrient will hinder your body’s ability to function normally. Depending on how much fluid you lose, dehydration might be mild, moderate, or severe.

The existence of any living creature is dependent on the presence of water. A complex physiological process detailed in a May 2018 publication in Current Biology explains how fluid loss (via sweating, peeing, vomiting, or diarrhea) may increase fluid needs, put your survival at risk, and make you thirsty.

If you’re parched, it’s a sign that your body needs more water for proper functioning.

When you’re dehydrated, you lose more than just water; you lose electrolytes like salt and potassium, essential for maintaining your body’s ability to breathe, move, communicate, and do everything else it needs to stay alive.

A higher risk of dehydration may be present if you have a medical condition like diabetes. If you have been vomiting or experiencing diarrhea due to the flu or another severe illness, or if you have often been peeing, you should pay close attention to the number of fluids you are taking in.

However, dehydration signs aren’t usually so obvious. Some of the symptoms of dehydration may catch you off guard.

Signs of dehydration

The following are eight possible signs and symptoms of dehydration.

It’s important to remember that dehydration isn’t the only possible explanation for these symptoms. Seek emergency medical treatment if you experience any of these symptoms.

1.      Fatigue

If you’re not getting enough water, you could feel more exhausted than normal. This is because dehydration has far-reaching effects on health, including disruptions to normal sleep-wake patterns.

One study, including nearly 26,000 Chinese and American adults, found that adequately hydrated individuals slept longer than those who weren’t. Exercising when dehydrated is a surefire way to increase fatigue. Acute dehydration of 3.2% body mass increased tiredness perception and impaired exercise endurance in a study with 14 male athletes.

2.      A Dark, Slow-Moving Stream of Urine

Water deficiency causes dark urine and less frequent urination. Dehydration may be detected by looking at the color of your urine. If your body is trying to conserve water, it may produce less urine, which might cause it to become darker in color. The outcome is a higher concentration of salt and urea in the urine, two substances the body naturally excretes. The quality of one’s urination is not essential. Urine should be a very light straw color, not any darker. Remember that other factors, such as drug use and B vitamin intake, might cause your urine to appear yellow.

3.      Cracked Lips, Dry Skin, and Diminished Skin Elasticity

Dry skin and lips and a reduction in the skin’s flexibility are two of the most typical indicators of dehydration. Dry skin, dry tongue, and dry or cracked lips might all be signs of dehydration. You must consult a medical professional to receive an accurate diagnosis if, after drinking adequate water, you still have dry skin or cracked lips.

Medical professionals routinely utilize the skin turgor test to determine a patient’s hydration level. The skin turgor test consists of squeezing the skin of the patient’s lower arm or belly between two fingers for a few seconds before letting go. The skin of a well-hydrated person “tents” less and recovers to its natural shape much faster than that of a person with dry skin.

Dehydration levels, mild to severe, can be observed as a decrease in skin turgor.

4.      Headaches

If you don’t drink enough water, you may get regular headaches.

The exact mechanism by which dehydration triggers headaches is unknown, even though the two conditions are strongly linked. One theory proposes that headaches occur from stretching blood arteries in the brain, brought on by a lack of fluid in the body.

Experts acknowledge, however, that there are probably a variety of routes that lead to dehydration-related headaches and that some people may be more susceptible to these headaches than others. Several studies have found that drinking more water has fewer migraine attacks. Researchers studied the effects of water consumption on the severity, frequency, and duration of migraines in 256 women.

5.      Sensations of Dizziness

Dizziness is a common symptom of dehydration, especially upon standing. Orthostatic hypotension refers to a dip in blood pressure when standing or sitting up. Orthostatic hypotension can occur due to dehydration. As a result of age-related physiological changes, dehydration and low blood volume are more prevalent among the elderly (hypovolemia). If you’re dehydrated and get up too soon, you can feel faint. Fainting has been linked to severe dehydration, especially in the elderly.

6.      Heart Palpitations

Heart symptoms such as palpitations, pounding, fluttering, or an irregular pulse can be brought on by dehydration. Consuming an inadequate amount of fluids may negatively affect health in general, particularly cardiovascular health.

One review suggests dehydration can damage the heart in several ways, including reducing blood vessel function and changing blood pressure control. The volume of blood pushed out of the left ventricle of the heart and cardiac output — the amount of blood the heart pumps per minute — can be negatively impacted by dehydration in those engaging in strenuous activity in high temperatures.

7. Low Blood Pressure

Only when a person is very dehydrated will they show low blood pressure symptoms.

As was said before, dehydration interferes with blood vessel function and the body’s ability to regulate blood pressure. Your body will respond to a drop in blood volume by increasing your heart rate and breathing rate and decreasing your blood pressure. Severe dehydration manifests itself with dangerously low blood pressure. Very low blood pressure, shock, and even death can happen from severe dehydration.

8.      Disordered Thinking and Inability To Focus

In addition to reducing brain function, dehydration can decrease one’s ability to concentrate. Several reports have linked dehydration to short-term memory, focus, and disposition impairments.

A study with only 12 men found that going without water for 36 hours raised their error rates on tests and negatively affected their energy, mood, focus, and memory. These symptoms were alleviated by drinking water. Numerous studies have shown that both sexes can be negatively affected by dehydration in terms of mood and cognitive performance.

Extreme dehydration can alter one’s state of mind, resulting in confusion and anger.

Bottom Line

Many people experience dehydration due to sickness, drug usage, intense activity, or just not drinking enough water. Dark urine, reduced urination, headaches, weariness, dry skin, decreased skin turgor, and impaired focus are all indicators of dehydration. Consult a doctor immediately if you or a loved one exhibits severe dehydration.

Frequently Asked Questions-FAQs

How much should an adult drink each day?

While most adults need about 2.5 L per day (including the water content of all beverages and meals), some may need less, and others will need more. People who weigh more will naturally have greater requirements than those who don’t.

Do soft drinks hydrate?

Water, tea, soda, and other popular drinks are good for you since they help keep you hydrated. The amount of fluid one takes in is the single most important variable. There are many reasons to consume a wide range of liquids in your daily diet to be well-hydrated since most individuals will drink more of a drink if they find it to their liking.