10 Telltale Signs You are Dehydrated

With summer here in Louisiana, it is important to address dehydration. Our bodies are made up of between 65 - 75% water, depending on age and body composition. This percentage fluctuates with daily fluid and dietary intake, perspiration, and urinary and bowel movements. When we lose more water than we take in, our bodies get out of balance and dehydration can develop.

Dehydration has many causes. Environmental factors such as heat and humidity can affect your water level. Excessive sweating from exercise can deplete the body of fluids. Those with excessive diarrhea or vomiting are also at risk as well as those with a continuous fever. Certain medications and stimulants such as caffeine can also impact your water percentage. Additionally, persons who urinate excessively should be monitored for signs of dehydration.

Particularly at risk are children, the elderly and people with chronic illnesses; they can become dehydrated very quickly. Endurance athletes and those exercising or working out in hot, humid weather are also prone to losing a lot of fluids. And people living at high altitudes (usually above 8,000 feet) are susceptible to dehydration.

Thirst is usually the first clue that you are dehydrated. Once a person feels thirsty they have already lost 2-3% of their body’s water. Other signs of dehydration include:

  • dark, scanty urine
  • dry mouth and/or lips
  • few or no tears
  • headache
  • constipation
  • tiredness or sleepiness
  • muscle cramps
  • nausea and vomiting
  • tingling and numbness
  • lightheadedness

If you suspect dehydration, it is important to replenish fluids immediately. If outside, move the person to a cool or shaded place and remove any unnecessary clothing. Apply a cool compress to the head and neck. Give them plenty of water or a sports drink, such as Gatorade, to restore electrolytes.

Call 911 immediately if a person experiences:

  • little or no urination
  • sunken eyes
  • dim or loss of vision
  • seizures
  • chest pain
  • low blood pressure
  • rapid heartbeat
  • rapid breathing
  • cool, clammy skin
  • dizziness, confusion or unconsciousness

Dehydration can be easily prevented. Sip on water constantly throughout the day; don’t wait until you are thirsty to drink. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Drink extra water before and after exercising. If exercising in the heat, make sure to add sports drinks or use an electrolyte mix to help keep your sodium, potassium, etc. in balance. If sick, make sure to keep sipping fluids to replace those lost by vomiting or diarrhea. Pay attention to the early warning signs of dehydration and act accordingly. This message has been brought to you by Care, Inc.

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