Signs of Dehydration

parched earth

As a record heatwave strikes much of the country, many people are experiencing heat as never before. From New York to Nashville, from Washington to Wichita, record highs have been reached across the nation.

Serving to intensify an already dire situation, a severe drought has also struck much of the United States. According to the National Drought Mitigation Center, much of the country is facing a severe shortage of precipitation this year.

The combination of record high temperatures and little rainfall has causes a variety of problems. Farmers are losing crops as the stifling weather relentlessly torments their produce. Homeowners face expensive electrical bills, and possibly expensive HVAC repairs, as air conditioning units work overtime to cool their homes. And of course there are fires ravaging the landscape in Colorado.

Drink Water, Lots of Water

WIth such repressive heat, it’s vitally important to stay hydrated. Too often, we neglect to drink enough life-supporting water, consuming instead sodas, coffee, and teas. But we do this at our own risk. We need water.

But how much water should we drink? Well, it depends. A good rule of thumb is to take your weight in pounds and divide that number in half. The resulting number represents the minimum number of ounces of water you should drink in each day.

For example, a man weighing 180 pounds should drink 90 ounces of water each day (that’s 180/2). That’s for an average day; if you are physically exerting yourself, you’ll need much more than that.

Signs of Dehydration

Drinking too little water can eventually result in a slow, painful death. Fortunately, there are many easily recognizable warning signs along the way. These include:

  • Thirst. It should be obvious that a dry mouth is indicative of too little water intake, however this sign frequently goes unnoticed as you are preoccupied with other activities.
  • Tiredness. Dehydration is usually accompanied by a sense of tiredness or sleepiness. You just don’t feel like exerting yourself with activities.
  • Discolored or infrequent urination. When you don’t have enough water going into your system, you won’t haven enough for frequent output. Your urine should be nearly clear. Dark, cloudy yellow urination, or very little output, is a warning sign of not consuming enough water.
  • Headaches. Dehydration produces headaches in many people.
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness. A subtle sense of disorientation or dizziness can be felt with dehydration.

If you don’t treat your dehydration, more advanced signs begin to manifest themselves. These include sunken eyes, little or no sweating, and extreme thirst as well as irritability.

When any of these symptoms appear, it’s best to begin consuming fluids. Don’t gulp lots of water at once; that’s likely to make you nauseous and can lead to vomiting. Sip the fluids to slowly rehydrate yourself.

For more information about dehydration, see the Signs of Dehydration web site.

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12 Comments on “Signs of Dehydration”

  1. Dave McIntyre Says:

    I had to treat a student on our advanced wilderness survival course over the weekend. Even though it is winter here in Brazil he was sweating excessively. He just didn’t stay on top of it and by the last morning he was really lethargic. He tried to eat and it made him nauseous. I mixed him up a canteen of rehydration mix and a half hour later he was fine. He had salt and sugar with him in his kit but didn’t recognize the symptoms of dehydration. He was confusing his bad state for lack of sleep and food. All he needed was a good drink.


  2. Joe Says:

    Thanks for the comment, Dave!

    I see a lot of that as well, particularly from people who are relatively inactive.



  3. millenniumfly Says:

    As more and more people are chronically dehydrated normally, excessive heat such as what we’re currently experiencing will only work to cause even more problems. It is sooooo critical to drink water as much and as often as possible. Skip the soda, coffee, and booze!


    • Joe Says:

      Great point, millenniumfly. If our bodies are already deprived of water, getting dehydrated when we exert ourselves comes that much easier.


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