14 Signs and Symptoms of Dehydration You Should Know
Dehydration is extremely common, it’s probably one of the most common conditions I see in practice. Identifying that you are indeed dehydrated can be tricky because the most common symptoms are often very subtle. Understanding the symptoms of dehydration is extremely important to be able to treat the underlying cause of your symptom and make you feel better quickly and easily.
Below are common signs and symptoms of dehydration:
1. You are not sweating during exercise
A clue that you might be dehydrated is if you notice that you are not sweating in a workout that typically causes you to be drenched in sweat. This is because when you are dehydrated your body will try to hold onto every last bit of fluid in your body and will not want to give any of it up.
2. Your rings are tight
If you wear a ring(s) this is an easy way for you to notice that you might be dehydrated. If you feel like your rings are getting tighter, this may be a sign of dehydration due to your body holding onto fluid tightly which means this fluid may spill over into extracellular spaces causing puffiness – very noticeable if you can’t get your ring on or off.
3. You have muscle cramps
Dehydration is one of the most common causes for muscle cramps, most notably in the large muscles such as the calves. This is also a common sign of electrolyte imbalances, notably potassium and sodium, so be sure to be also getting electrolytes from vegetables and fruits.
4. You have dry mouth
Having a dry mouth is very uncomfortable, and a common cause for this is dehydration. Drink a couple glasses of water if this is happening and it should relieve some if not all of the dry feeling.
5. You are thirsty
Having the sensation of thirst is one of the most common signs of dehydration. This is especially true during workouts where you are sweating a ton, so make sure to always keep a water bottle on hand!
6. You have no urge to urinate
If you typically have to urinate every two hours or less, and you are now finding you have no urge to urinate and it’s been three hours, this is definitely a sign of dehydration.
7. You feel bloated and puffy
Dehydration can cause you to feel bloated and puffy and can even make your clothes feel tight. Again, this is due to your body holding onto every last drop of water and retaining all the fluid.
8. You feel constipated
To have a bowel movement, this requires your body to pull in water to the colon both mix with the bowel and to help push out the bowel. Without adequate water, this leaves a harder stool that is also harder to pass through the digestive system.
9. You have dark yellow urine
One of the classic signs of dehydration is dark yellow urine. This is because when you are dehydrated your body wants to hold onto every drop of water, and so when you urinate you will release the least amount of fluid possible, leading to concentration of salts and compounds which gives the urine the characteristic yellow color. This is why normal urine is light yellow because the salts and compounds have been diluted by water to make the urine less concentrated.
10. You feel sick to your stomach
When you are dehydrated, you are likely also lacking in essential electrolytes that are required for basic processes in the body. Nausea is a sign that something is not working correctly in your body and is a very common finding with dehydration.
11. You feel dizzy
Dehydration is a common cause for dizziness which may be due to decreased blood flow to the brain due to the lack of fluid in your body being sent to the brain. This may also be due to electrolyte imbalances that are very common with dehydration, notable sodium and potassium.
12. You have a headache
Dehydration is the most common cause of headache that I see in practice. Any stress on the body that causes an imbalance in the body’s normal function, such as with dehydration, can cause a headache.
13. Your lips are chapped
Having chapped, dry lips may be a sign that you need to drink water. Dry lips indicate a lack of moisture in the lips and mucus membranes, which happens when your body is low on water.
14. You gained weight
If you notice you gained 5 pounds in a day or even a week, this is definitely most likely due to fluid retention and/or constipation. Both are due to dehydration and is a sign you need to drink more water. It may seem counterintuitive to drink more water to decrease fluid retention, but when you are dehydrated your body will cling to every last drop of fluid unlike when you are hydrated and your body is shedding fluids as it should be.
If you have one or more of the above signs and symptoms consider the cause being dehydration and start drinking water now! The above symptoms are very common causes for dehydration but may also be signs of other serious conditions and so it is always a good idea to consult with your primary care provider.
About the author: Sarah-Kate Rems is an Ivy-league trained Board-Certified Family Nurse Practitioner licensed in California with an expertise in preventative healthcare. She considers nutrition and exercise to be the basis of well-being and is a strong advocate for daily physical activity and maintaining a healthy diet. Sarah-Kate is also a co-founder of The Mindful Tech Lab
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