Symptoms of Dehydration Are a Red Flag to Health and Medical Needs

Feeling tired? Parched? Thirst and sluggishness are among symptoms of dehydration, a mild or severe condition when the body doesn’t have the water it needs to function.

Factors contributing to dehydration include not drinking enough water, excessive heat or sweating, and illness. Staying hydrated is a daily challenge, and being familiar with signs of dehydration can not only help with the quality of life but also prevent serious medical situations.

Water and fluids serve many purposes and functions in the body, including regulating temperature, lubricating joints, aiding in digestion, and eliminating waste. The average adult male has a body weight that is about 60 percent water.

Someone can become dehydrated without realizing it, and dehydration can affect all age groups. However, older folks are more susceptible to developing symptoms as aging may result in losses of water reserves and a sense of thirst. Medical conditions, such as reduced kidney function, and the side-effects of some medications can have negative impacts on hydration.

Replace Fluids for Wellness 

Fluids are lost through normal daily functions, such as breathing, sweating, and eliminating urine and stools. The body loses more fluids in cases of fever, diarrhea, vomiting, or other illnesses.

The body’s fluids are replaced by drinking water, a recommended eight glasses a day, and eating foods containing water, such as watermelon, cucumbers, and soups. Without replenishment, the body can become dehydrated, a situation that can be mild or severe.

Watch for Symptoms 

Signs of mild dehydration include thirst, a dry mouth, skin that is cool and dry, fatigue, muscle cramps, and headaches. Not urinating or producing dark yellow urine also are symptoms. Mild dehydration can be treated by drinking fluids such as water, juices, or broth. Sports drinks may help restore electrolytes.

Symptoms of severe dehydration include a rapid heartbeat, very dry skin, yellow urine, quick and shallow breathing, eyes that are sunken, confusion, feeling dizzy or fainting. Severe cases are considered a medical emergency that may require a hospital visit, according to health care professionals. Replenishment through intravenous fluids may be needed to help avoid organ damage and serious health complications.

Follow These Drinking Tips to Stay Hydrated

Rehydration challenges increase with age. An older adult may lose the sense of thirst, according to the National Institute on Aging, which recommends drinking water before feeling thirsty.

Older folks may just forget to drink water or have mobility challenges that make getting a drink difficult. Tips for older adults to maintain adequate hydration include:

  1. Drink water before and during exercising.
  2. Consume low-fat, sugar-free beverages, and eat foods with high water content.
  3. Drink more water when outside in hot or humid conditions.
  4. Monitor intake of diuretics, such as coffee and tea.
  5. Drink a glass, not just sips, of water when taking a pill.
  6. Observe a daily limit of one alcoholic drink if female and two if male.

Dehydration can be prevented. Drinking water throughout the day, taking precautions on hot and humid days, and being aware of symptoms can help avoid dehydration and its ill effects.