When we don’t drink sufficient water and ignore the signs of dehydration, we risk serious health issues. How do you tell if you are dehydrated? What are the top signs you should be looking out for?
This article will help you know the five topmost signs of dehydration. If you experience any one (or a combination), take a break from whatever you are doing and drink up. But first, here are some tips to help you avoid dehydration.
Tips to Avoid Dehydration
- Keep a bottle of water handy wherever you are.
- Set water-break reminders and take them seriously.
- Drink up after every meal or snack.
- Have a favorite fluid brand. If you dislike the taste of water, try fruit infused water
- Increase your intake of fresh fruit and veggies. Fruits like watermelons and apples contain high proportions of water and will help you avoid dehydration.
If you are not doing any of the above, you risk experiencing dehydration. The following top five signs will tell you if you are already there.
Inability to focus and dizzy spells
One of the earliest signs of dehydration shows in your mind. Your mood changes, you become irritable, have difficulty focusing, become confused, and experience dizzy spells.
The reason behind these symptoms could be stress, but dehydration accelerates and magnifies them.
When dehydrated, your brain cells (neurons) do not operate at their optimal level. It affects your short-term memory, ability to concentrate, mood, and cognitive performance. It may lead to an altered mental state and mood change.
Dehydration, especially among older people can also lead to low blood pressure. A common sign of this is frequent dizzy spells and headaches. In severe cases, dehydration could lead to loss of consciousness.
Chronic fatigue and unending headaches
When your body does not get enough water, like any other organized system, it prioritizes which organs and tissues to supply the fluid. The body prioritizes vital organs like the heart and liver so that they can continue to function well. Other parts, like the hand or leg muscles and back, receive lower quantities. Thus the cells and tissues cannot operate optimally. It results in one feeling chronically fatigued.
Since the blood supply to vital organs like the brain also dips, you will tend to have frequent headaches. It is no wonder grandma knew that the quickest treatment for a throbbing migraine is a refreshing glass of water!
Dry skin and lips
Not all signs of dehydration are internal. Some are visible and noticeable to other people. For instance, dry skin and lips. It is one of the most common signs, yet we often ignore it and apply lip balm or gloss to “keep a fresh look.” But when you do that, you are only duping yourself.
Remember, dehydration tells your body to redistribute water and supply vital organs such as the heart and liver. The body switches to survival mode. Less-vital organs like the skin and body parts like muscle tissues take in less moisture, and it starts showing. You will notice dry and cracked lips and reduced skin elasticity. If you often stay dehydrated for long periods, your skin will develop wrinkles faster. Don’t let cosmetic fixes dup you. The best way to maintain a healthy, young, and vibrant look is to avoid dehydration.
Since the body slips into survival mode and reduces water supply to less-vital parts like the muscle tissues, your muscles do not function optimally. This could affect you, especially if you like working out at home. Dehydration can cause you to experience painful muscle cramps.
When facing dehydration, the body pulls out fluid from less-vital areas. It also removes electrolytes which can lead to frequent muscle cramps. This is why many sports drinks have electrolytes – to restore natural balance and enable your muscles to function well.
Dark-colored and smelly urine
Another visible sign that you are dehydrated is the color and smell of your pee. When dehydrated, you won’t pee as much because your body tries to retain water. As a result, the little pee produced will be more concentrated, thus darker in color, and has a strong odor.
Ideally, your pee should have a pale yellow color (like light straw) and a not-so-strong odor. Examining the color and smell of your pee is one of the best and most practical ways you can tell if you are dehydrated.
A final word, feeling thirsty is not the same as dehydration
You have probably heard that when thirsty, your body is already dehydrated. But that is not the case. When thirsty, your body experiences a desire to drink. It does not come with some ill effects. On the other hand, dehydration is a physiological condition where body water levels reduce beyond the optimum level. The above signs will tell you when this happens, but you can avoid that by practicing the tips mentioned in the opening.