Dry skin isn’t the only sign that you are dehydrated. You may think you are just a little thirsty, but there are other signs can clue you in on the fact that you are dehydrated. It is important to pick up on these signs before dehydration becomes worse.
Dehydration can either be mild, moderate, or severe. Mild and moderate dehydration can be reversed fairly easily. Simply drink water and/or fluids that have electrolytes. When dehydration is left untreated it becomes severe and can cause worse complications including death. Recognizing the signs of dehydration in the mild stage is the best way to prevent problems.
Signs of becoming dehydrated include:
Being thirsty is one of the most obvious signs of dehydration. Ideally you want to drink water before you get thirsty because being thirsty means you are already there. According to the National Academy of Sciences, women should drink between 11 and 12 cups of water daily and men should drink between 14 and 15 cups of water daily.
Less Frequent Urination
The average person urinates three to four times a day. When you are dehydrated, you may find that you urinate less or not at all. This is because the brain tells the kidneys to conserve fluid. Re-hydrating will have you back on the toilet in no time.
In addition to not urinating as frequently, you may find that when you do urinate, your urine is much darker than normal. The dark color comes from the fact that the kidneys have been holding on to the urine for so long that it becomes super concentrated.
Water makes up about 64% of human skin, so dehydration will be heavily reflected in the skin’s appearance. Dehydrated skin can appear wrinkly. It loses elasticity and gets very dry. Re-hydrating can help with this, as well as a good dehydrated skin treatment if the condition gets bad. A good product for dehydrated skin care will contain a good moisturizer that can help to replenish important nutrients to the skin, but the best dehydrated skin treatment is water and/or fluid with electrolytes.
Just like dehydrated skin dries out, so does your mouth. Saliva keeps your mouth moist and our body needs water to make saliva. When you are dehydrated, your body can’t make as much saliva as usual, leading to dry mouth and other oral problems.
With a dry mouth comes bad breath. The reason for this is because your mouth isn’t producing enough saliva (which is the same reason for dry mouth). Since saliva helps to eliminate the bacteria from your mouth, without it bacteria can grow unchecked causing bad breath.
Muscle cramping can happen when you are highly active, over-heated, and dehydrated. The loss of electrolytes and the excess heat causes the muscles to seize up, leading to painful cramping. This can happen even in cool weather. Cramping is painful and can get worse if the dehydration isn’t taken care of in a timely manner.
Cravings for Sweets
Every part of your body needs water to function, including the liver. When you are dehydrated, your liver can’t make glucose like it normally does. Glucose is what helps your body to process sugar into energy so without it, your body will feel like it needs more sugar. This is what leads to the cravings. This can be especially dangerous for people who are diabetic and already suffer from glucose and insulin problems.
When you are dehydrated, you may get pounding headaches. They can be mild or as severe as a migraine. Just like dehydrated skin gets wrinkly and dries up, the brain can dry out a little and shrink away from the skull. This is what causes the pain of a headache. Replenishing fluids and electrolytes replenishes the brain and plumps it back to its original state.
Fatigue, Confusion, and/or Moodiness
You can feel fatigued when you are dehydrated for a similar reason that you feel cravings for sweets. Since your body can’t process glucose efficiently, you have less energy. Confusion and moodiness can be caused by the restriction of blood flow to the brain. The effect can be stronger for women than men. Even mild dehydration can cause fatigue, confusion, and moodiness.
The symptoms of dehydration are sometimes not obvious–fatigue could be mistaken for simply being overexerted or people could think that lotion is the solution to dehydrated skin rather than opting for a better dehydrated skin care. The safest way to make sure that these symptoms aren’t caused by dehydration is to drink some water and see if they go away.