With summer well underway and so many outdoor activities to enjoy, we may not stop to think about whether we are staying hydrated. Dehydration is a serious health concern, especially during the hottest months.
The amount of water a person needs to stay hydrated is highly individual. But there are signs of dehydration that you can watch out for. If you notice any of the below, grab some water and stay healthy all summer long.
1. Increased Thirst and Dry Mouth – If you get to the point of feeling thirsty, then you’re already experiencing dehydration. Of course, it’s best to treat dehydration on the front end by ensuring that you’re taking in enough water. The National Academy of Sciences recommends about 11.4 cups a day for women, and 15 cups for men. This amount will vary and depends on things like the amount of exercise you do and how much time you spend in the sun. The bottom line is that the easiest remedy is to start drinking water and beverages with electrolytes as soon as you notice thirst and dry mouth, but try not to let yourself get to that point.
2. Feelings of Fatigue, Confusion or Anger – Research has found that even mild levels of dehydration can affect your energy, thinking and mood. These changes are most marked in young children and the elderly, who may appear forgetful and less alert when dehydrated.
3. Dry Eyes or Blurred Vision – When you are dehydrated, parts of your body that are normally moist will feel dry and become irritated. When you exercise or are in the sun for long periods of time, you sweat and your overall hydration goes down, which can result in dry eyes or blurred vision. Be sure to drink plenty of fluids when doing any form of exercise to recoup the hydration you are naturally losing.
4. Headaches or Disorientation – Certain levels of dehydration can cause headaches, migraines, light-headedness and even delirium. A person may also experience dizziness and nausea when dehydrated because there isn’t enough fluid to send throughout the body. These symptoms could result in heat exhaustion, so it’s imperative to be mindful if you begin to experience headaches or light-headedness and go for a bottle of water.
5. Muscle Cramps – If you’ve been exercising and experience muscle cramping, this could be a serious sign of dehydration. When you exercise and sweat, you lose fluid and salts from the body, which could result in widespread muscle cramps. To prevent cramps, drink sports beverages with sodium or have a salty snack – the sodium will help your body retain water as you rehydrate.
6. Lack of Sweat – This is perhaps one of the most serious signs of dehydration; lack of sweat means that your body is in desperate need of hydration. Inability to sweat could also be a sign of overheating or heatstroke, so it’s crucial to cool down and rehydrate if you aren’t sweating anymore.
7. Dark Colored Urine – If you are properly hydrated, your urine will be light yellow. If on the other hand, your urine is dark in color, if there is blood present or if you have had a noticeable decrease in the frequency of urination, then you need to stop exercising immediately.
8. Fever – Because overheating can alter your body’s normal temperature, dehydration can lead to fever-like symptoms and hyperthermia. Excessive overheating is urgent, and you should stop exercising immediately, take an ice bath and hydrate.
9. Shriveled and Dry Skin – If you are properly hydrated, your skin has elasticity and will bounce back from a pinch. When you are dehydrated, your skin will be lacking in elasticity and will appear thin. If you pinch your skin and it doesn’t melt back onto your body easily, then it’s likely that you are dehydrated.