Top Warning Signs You Could Be Dehydrated (and Why It Matters)

Pensive blond woman drinking water in her kitchen

Many of us walk around in a state of mild to moderate dehydration because we often don’t consume enough liquids to supply our bodies with the hydration it needs to function at its best. Chronic dehydration stresses our organs and can interfere with bodily functions leading in some cases to illness, irritability, fatigue, difficulty focusing and more. Hot weather and physical activity deplete our body’s water, making drinking water essential in warm climates, especially during summer months, and before, during and after exercise. So unless you’re on a fluid-restricted regimen prescribed by a healthcare professional, you should be drinking up on a regular basis.

Below are some simple signs to look for that could indicate you’re dehydrated:

  • You’re thirsty
  • Your skin and mouth are dry
  • You have a headache
  • You’re dizzy or lightheaded
  • Your urine is dark yellow
  • You feel sluggish and foggy brained
  • You’re constipated
  • You constantly crave snacks and sugar
  • In extreme cases, you might experience confusion, palpitations, fainting, weakness, decreased urination and in severe cases, seizures. These symptoms require immediate medical attention.

Of course all of the above can be caused by a variety of things, but even mild dehydration can have a more negative effect on your physical and mental well-being then most of us realize. Plus, the older we get, the more prone we are to dehydration with serious consequences.

The Solution? Drink Up
Water is best for hydration, but fruits and veggies with high water content like carrots, broccoli, watermelon, cucumbers and grapes are a good source, too. Sports drinks, tea and coffee can also help, but keep in mind that caffeinated beverages can increase the amount you pee in those who aren’t regular drinkers, so you could be losing some of what you consume.

Here are a few benefits of drinking water and staying hydrated:

  • Your body uses water to maintain its temperature, remove waste and lubricate joints.
  • Adequate fluid intake can help maintain clear, healthy skin, important for both looking your best and maintaining your body’s protective outer layer.
  • Good hydration helps the heart pump blood more easily, which avoids stressing the heart and other organs during routine daily activities as well as more strenuous activity.
  • Regular water consumption aids brain function, which helps you focus and improves concentration. A recent study in The Journal of Nutrition found even mild dehydration leads to inattention. The co-author of the study, Harris Lieberman, PhD stated “Thirst is not the best measure of hydration, so a decrease in your ability to focus is an early warning signal it’s time to drink up.”

How Much Water is Enough?
A good guide for whether you’re well hydrated is the color and concentration of your urine. If it’s pale yellow like lemonade, you’re probably getting enough. If it’s darker yellow and appears more concentrated, you probably need to drink more. If your urine is clear and colorless, you’re probably drinking too much water and should slow down on the water drinking.

Good hydration on a regular basis will keep you physically and mentally at your best, today and for years to come. And remember to always check with your healthcare provider about proper fluid intake if you have a medical condition before dramatically increasing how much water you drink.