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Recognize Signs of Dehydration
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6 min read

Recognize Signs of Dehydration

Reviewed by Cody Sanders, Board Certified Holistic Health Practitioner, Authored by Mixhers Editorial Staff

December 09, 2021

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Do you know how to recognize signs of dehydration in your body? If not, take a minute to look at our comprehensive dehydration and rehydration guide!

Did you know that if you drained all the water out of your body, you'd weigh at least 50% less than you weigh right now? (You'd also be dead, but that's beside the point). Water makes up a huge percentage of all our body's cells and tissues, but how much attention do we give to our fluid intake each day? Probably not enough.

Mild dehydration isn't too worrisome and can be fixed pretty quickly by drinking water, but moderate and severe dehydration are more serious and may even require emergency care. Here's how to recognize signs of dehydration in your body so you can take action right away. Even better, we've included some tips for how to avoid dehydration in the first place with water and oral rehydration supplements such as Herhydration.

What Is Dehydration?

Before we can fully understand the purpose of proper hydration, we need to ask ourselves, "what is dehydration and what can it do to my body?" The word "dehydrated" refers to insufficient water and other fluid levels in the body.

Dehydration can be mild, moderate, or severe. Mild dehydration is pretty common. In fact, a lot of us have problems with mild chronic dehydration and don't even know it! Moderate dehydration is more serious than mild dehydration and can quickly turn into severe dehydration if we don't quickly replace lost fluids. Severe dehydration is life-threatening and requires immediate emergency care.

Why Is Dehydration Dangerous?

Imagine trying to drive a vehicle when the fuel tank is empty. Though you might be able to go a few miles on fumes alone, your car will eventually shut down because it's lacking the fluid it needs to continue operating. Water and other hydrating liquids are a lot like the fuel you put into your vehicle's gas tank. They help your body run by hydrating your cells and tissues.

When your body experiences too much fluid loss, your cells stop functioning properly. If you don't replace your body fluid and continue to lose water (from illness, excessive sweating, or too much heat), your vital organs may begin to shut down. That'll ruin your day, won't it?

That's why it's essential to make sure you're getting sufficient water and other fluids throughout the day. It's also wise to become familiar with mild, moderate, and severe dehydration symptoms so you can recognize them in yourself and others before it's too late.

If you're worried about your body water levels and you're trying to remember the last time you took a sip of water, we get it! With so many other things vying for our attention, drinking fluids throughout the day is often the last thing on our minds. But neglecting our body's fluid replacement needs can backfire in a big way. So, let's talk about common signs of dehydration, shall we?

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Dehydration?

Every single cell and system in our bodies requires water to function. If we don't drink enough water, our bodies will start to work less efficiently. If insufficient water intake continues, we'll begin to show signs of dehydration. Here are common dehydration symptoms to watch out for, especially if you have diarrhea, severe vomiting, or fluid loss from increased physical activity in hot weather.

Symptoms of Mild Dehydration

If you have mild dehydration but haven't lost a dangerous amount of fluid from your body yet, you are likely to experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Thirst
  • Headache
  • Chills
  • Head rushes
  • Fatigue
  • Constipation
  • Dry skin
  • Slightly dry mucous membranes
  • Loss of appetite
  • Flushed skin
  • Slightly decreased urine output
  • Dark yellow, smelly urine

      Many of us fail to recognize when we're mildly dehydrated because our symptoms can mimic other minor health conditions. But if you experience any of the above symptoms and you know your body could probably use more fluids than you've been giving it, go get yourself a big glass of water, girl!

      Better yet, add a packet of Herhydration to your water so you can replace your body's electrolytes. Drinking electrolytes is a more effective way to quickly reverse the effects of excess fluid loss than drinking water alone.

      Symptoms of Moderate Dehydration

      Now that you know how to recognize mild dehydration symptoms, you should be able to avoid moderate dehydration symptoms in most circumstances. But if for some reason you're too busy or distracted to notice signs of mild dehydration, your body could quickly advance into moderate dehydration. Here are some of the things you're likely to experience in moderate dehydration (when your fluid loss reaches somewhere between 5% and 6%).

      • Thirst
      • Decreased sweating
      • Increased heart rate
      • Extreme fatigue
      • Muscle cramps
      • Sunken eyes
      • Increased body temperature
      • Little to no urine output
      • Tingling in the feet and hands
      • Nausea
      • Faster breathing rate
      • Dry mouth
      • Dehydrated skin
      • Irritability

        Symptoms like these are your body's way of telling you it's in serious trouble. Incidentally, most of these symptoms are also symptoms of heat exhaustion, because the two conditions often go hand-in-hand. If you'd like to keep your internal organs functioning properly, you need to focus on rehydration ASAP!

        Symptoms of Severe Dehydration

        Severe dehydration is not something that just goes away on its own. Instead, it's a medical emergency and an indication that your body needs extra fluids or your organs could shut down and you could die. When your body crosses the critical threshold between moderate and severe dehydration, you may experience:

        • Thirst
        • Muscle spasms
        • Rapid heartbeat
        • Mottled skin (an indication of slow blood flow)
        • Low blood pressure
        • Confusion
        • Loss of tears and urine
        • Lack of sweating
        • Abdominal and/or chest pain
        • Impaired vision
        • Shriveled, dehydrated skin
        • Delirium
        • Seizures
        • Coma

        If you notice any of these symptoms in yourself, get help right away. Your life is in danger and you need intravenous fluid immediately. If you notice these symptoms in someone else, seek medical attention for them right away. IV fluids could mean the difference between life and death for someone who is critically dehydrated.

        How Do We Become Dehydrated?

        We can become dehydrated in a couple of ways: by not drinking enough water and other fluids to support our body's needs, or by losing too much fluid. (or both!) Here are some of the more common causes of dehydration:

        • Fever
        • Sweating too much (this can happen if you exercise vigorously or for prolonged periods in the heat)
        • Urinating too frequently (this can happen if you are consuming diuretics or if you have uncontrolled diabetes)
        • Excessive diarrhea and/or vomiting (due to illness or food poisoning)

        Pregnant women are also more susceptible to dehydration than some other groups of people because they are more likely to experience persistent nausea and/or vomiting. People with mouth sores or illnesses are also less likely to pay attention to their oral rehydration needs because they don't feel like eating or drinking anything.

        If you have a medical condition such as irritable bowel syndrome, you're also more likely to lose too much fluid and electrolytes from frequent diarrhea. Finally, you can become dehydrated if you experience too much blood loss (from giving blood too frequently, experiencing an injury that causes blood loss, or losing too much blood during your period).

        What Happens to Your Body When You Are Dehydrated?

        Our bodies go through several changes when we're dehydrated. Here's what happens when we lose too much water and don't replace it through IV or oral rehydration.

        • The kidneys begin to clog up with muscle proteins called myoglobin and they can no longer filter the blood effectively.
        • The brain begins to shrink in response to the lack of water. As it shrinks, we're more likely to experience headaches that can range from mild to severe.
        • The digestive system slows down because there isn't enough water to keep things flowing through at an optimal pace. As a result, we're more likely to experience constipation and digestion issues.
        • Blood pressure drops and blood volume decreases. This can lead to hypovolemic shock, which can lead to multiple organ failure and death. The body needs a lot of water to maintain optimal blood volume and blood pressure.
        • As dehydration sets in, the joints lose the lubrication they require to work properly. When this happens, we're more likely to experience joint pain and grinding sensations as the synovial fluid that cushions the joints dries out. We also will notice a change in skin elasticity.
          • Water loss hurts all our organs and body systems, but it can also influence our mood. Even mild dehydration can lead to increased anxiety, tension, and moodiness in affected persons. When we're dehydrated, we're also more likely to feel confused and experience "brain fog."
          • Water is essential for regulating body temperature. So if there's not enough water in our bodies at any given moment, we're more likely to experience hyperthermia, which refers to an increased core body temperature.

          As you can see, dehydration can really work a number on our body's various organs and systems. Fortunately, staying hydrated doesn't have to be a challenging task. Let's go over some things we can do to prevent dehydration every day and during high-risk activities (such as outdoor workouts in the heat).

          How Can You Prevent Dehydration?

          Preventing dehydration isn't rocket science, but it does require a little forethought and attention to the body's subtle cues. Here are some of the top suggestions we have for ensuring your body is sufficiently hydrated day in and day out.

          1. Eat rehydrating foods. Foods that contain a higher water concentration (such as fruits and vegetables) can help keep your body's fluid levels high. So make it a habit to eat the recommended 5-7 servings every day!
          2. Avoid soda and other caffeinated beverages. Did you know drinking too much caffeine can sabotage your hydration goals? Caffeine is a diuretic, which means it stimulates the elimination of fluids from your body. So instead of drinking soda every day, make it a goal to drink water. Though other drinks can hydrate your body, water is always the best choice. To replenish your electrolytes after sweating profusely, add electrolytes to your water.
          3. Cut back on the alcohol. If you're the type of gal who likes to party or just sit back with a cold one to unwind, you don't have to give up alcohol altogether. But you should know that alcohol is dehydrating, so it's wise to limit your consumption.
          4. Drink water throughout the day. Sometimes we get dehydrated because we simply forget to drink water. Keeping a bottle or jug of water by our side throughout the day can help us remember to chug away. A water bottle that displays the fluid ounces on the side can help you keep track of how many ounces you've had today-and how many you still need to drink before the day is over.

          These are all great ways to prevent dehydration. Remember that although dehydration is seen as primarily a summertime problem, it can happen at any time of the year. During the colder months, you're less likely to feel thirsty (which makes it easier to neglect your body's hydration needs). So be sure to thoroughly hydrate your body all year long.

          How Can You Treat Dehydration?

          If you're already feeling any dehydration symptom despite your best efforts to keep chugging fluids, here are some things you can do to treat your condition before it gets worse.

          • Drink water right now! No matter what you're doing, take a break and get a big drink of water if you feel the slightest hint of dehydration. Add electrolytes to your water, if possible.
          • Drink broth if you're sick. If your stomach can't handle straight water because you're feeling sick, try drinking broth. It is gentle on the digestive tract and can help replenish any liquids you've lost through diarrhea, vomiting, and/or sweating.
          • Get an IV drip. An oral rehydration solution is easiest, but if you're moderately or severely dehydrated, an IV drip can help bring your electrolytes and hydration levels up in minimal time. IV therapy is instantly absorbed by the body because it bypasses the digestive tract.

          If you're severely dehydrated, don't waste your time trying to treat the condition yourself; go to your nearest urgent care or emergency room. You could end up passed out on the floor or worse if you don't get emergency medical attention as soon as possible. But if you're mildly to moderately dehydrated, you may be able to get yourself out of the danger zone if you take action to rehydrate yourself immediately.

          Why Do We Need Electrolytes?

          Electrolytes are essential minerals that our bodies need to function. They include potassium, sodium, magnesium, chloride, phosphate, and bicarbonate. Electrolytes are responsible for generating and conducting nerve signals. They also help maintain electrical neutrality in our cells. Unfortunately, our bodies lose electrolytes pretty easily through our sweat, urine, and blood. When our electrolyte levels become imbalanced, we experience a variety of unpleasant consequences.

          The electrolytes sodium, calcium, and potassium are required to stimulate muscle contractions. When there are not enough of these substances in our bodies, we may experience muscles weakness or issues with intense muscles contractions (also commonly known as Charlie horses or muscle cramps). Electrolyte imbalances can also cause excessive tiredness, bone disorders, irregular heartbeat, numbness, nervous system disorders, changes in blood pressure, and convulsions. Sounds like a good time, huh? Yeah, we don't think so either.

          What Drinks Rehydrate the Body?

          Though water is the best thing to reach for when we need to rehydrate, there are other drinks that can hydrate us while also replenishing any lost fluid or electrolytes. Since water alone does not contain electrolytes, we need to add them to our water after we've lost a lot of fluids.

          Adding electrolytes in small amounts to our water every day can also help ensure proper hydration and electrolyte balance all the time. Your kidneys will filter out any electrolytes your body may not need, so you don't need to worry about somehow overdosing on electrolytes if you take them in moderation.

          Herhydration is one of the best drinks for rehydrating bodily fluids because it's formulated with sodium and potassium. It also contains green coconut (which is naturally full of magnesium, potassium, calcium, amino acids, and antioxidants), and beetroot powder (which improves blood flow and may improve exercise performance).

          Plus, if you don't like the overly sweet and sugary taste of any other electrolyte sports drink, you'll appreciate the fact that Herhydration is made without any sugar. But don't worry! It still tastes phenomenal because it's flavored with organic fruit and stevia. It also tastes amazing mixed with Herpower, which is a non-stimulant energy supplement that can help you get ready for your next workout and give you the get-up-and-go to start winning at life again.

          Ready to learn more tips and tricks for taking care of your body so you can be your most vibrant, healthy version of yourself? Feel free to head over to Mixhers resources whether you want to learn how to minimize your period pain or boost your libido. We're here for you, girl!

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