Signs of Dehydration in Adults

By: Adrian Cruce

People suffering from dehydration may become confused. This is due to severe dehydration causing their body’s blood pressure to decrease and lead to lightheadedness upon standing (known as orthostatic hypotension).

Severe dehydration requires medical intervention as it can lead to serious consequences, including blood clots and convulsions. Babies and young children especially are at risk from dehydration as fever or diarrhea often drain off water from their bodies, leaving them depleted of fluids.

1. Dry Mouth

Have you ever experienced dry mouth when awakening in the morning? This could be an indicator that your body is dehydrated; lacking enough saliva production could mean bacteria growing unchecked in your mouth and leading to bad breath.

Your body loses water through sweat, urine and other means, such as excessive sweating during exercise or hot weather, vomiting and diarrhea as well as certain medical conditions like diabetes can all cause increased fluid loss. These events can increase fluid loss to more than expected.

Dehydration may cause patients to appear lethargic or disoriented, while physical examination may show dry mucous membranes and tongue, delayed capillary refill time, sunken eyes, poor skin turgor and low or absent standing blood pressure (hypotension), tachypnea, tachycardia or fever as symptoms.

Dehydration causes your body to adapt by constricting blood vessels and increasing heart rate to try and maintain blood pressure – leading to dizziness, headaches and general weakness.

Normal urine has a light hue because the kidneys produce it with plenty of water content, however when your body becomes dehydrated kidneys retain more fluid than usual and release less water, leading to dark-colored urine output.

Water plays an essential role in human body, from lubricating joints and eyes, facilitating digestion, flushing out wastes, and maintaining body temperature to transporting nutrients directly to cells, regulating blood pressure, keeping skin moisturized, and helping digestion. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables may help prevent dehydration; if symptoms such as dry mouth or fatigue arise, consult your physician who may recommend oral rehydration solutions that contain sugar, salts and minerals that restore electrolyte balance within your system.

2. Fever

Dehydration occurs when your body loses fluid through sweat, urine and diarrhea; without replenishing them with adequate fluid intake it could lead to shock. Drinking plenty of water is one of the easiest ways to stay hydrated during hot weather activities or outdoor pursuits; eating foods high in water content such as fruits and vegetables also can help.

Extreme dehydration should be treated immediately as it constitutes an immediate medical emergency. The condition likely results from a decrease in body blood volume, leading to hypotension and rapid heart rate (tachycardia). Additional signs of severe dehydration include dry mucous membranes, sunken eyes, delayed capillary refill, cracked lips, a dry mouth/tongue combo, cracked lips/lips, thirst, weakness and dark urine color – among many others.

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At risk for dehydration are children, the elderly and anyone suffering from diarrhea or vomiting. When sick, this group often suffers the most due to being unable to express their thirst directly and acquire drinks themselves.

Fever is one of the more subtle signs of dehydration that may be more difficult for older adults to identify than other symptoms, due to how their bodies do not respond as readily to fever than younger people do. Over-the-counter medicines like acetaminophen, ibuprofen or aspirin may act as fever reducers to mask symptoms by acting as maskers for your symptoms.

Dehydration symptoms that are harder to spot include fatigue, dizziness and rapid heart rate. If these are present for yourself or someone you know, contact a physician immediately; they may suggest liquid rehydration therapy to replenish lost fluids from your body and restore health.

3. Muscle Cramps

Dehydration causes muscles in the body to cramp up when too much liquid has been lost from them or when they cannot relax after intense physical exertion. Cramps can also indicate severe dehydration that impairs your heart’s ability to pump blood properly, and therefore cramped muscles can be an indicator that you need more water than you are currently taking in.

Mild dehydration can typically be treated by drinking more fluids – water is ideal, but oral rehydration solutions sold at pharmacies and grocery stores are also an option. Be wary of sugary soft drinks like soda and alcohol which may increase dehydration. If your condition worsens quickly seek medical assistance immediately.

People who are severely dehydrated cannot get enough oxygen into their brain and vital organs, leaving them feeling tired, dizzy and often uncooperative. They may have a rapid heartbeat, headache or confusion and unable to think clearly; their urine may even turn dark-colored which indicates their kidneys have lost more fluid than they can replenish – all signs that something needs to change immediately!

Severe dehydration can damage kidneys and even brain tissue, making prompt treatment essential. A doctor will diagnose dehydration through medical history review and physical exam. They may conduct blood tests to evaluate levels of sodium, potassium and other electrolytes in your system.

Some individuals are at higher risk for dehydration than others. These include people who sweat heavily due to high temperature, older adults who struggle to tell when they are thirsty, infants and young children who struggle to get enough fluids, those taking medications which cause sweating or excessive urination as well as people taking medicines that increase sweating or excessive urination as well as people who experience vomiting or diarrhea who also increase the likelihood of dehydration.

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4. Decreased Appetite

Dehydration can significantly reduce appetite. Drinking more water and eating foods that contain high water contents such as fruits and vegetables may help restore it.

Better Health Channel advises that another way of monitoring fluid intake is through looking at the color of your urine. Dark yellow-tinged urine could indicate you’re losing too much fluid; an ideal color would be paler yellowish hued urine.

fatigue is another telltale symptom of dehydration. If you find yourself exhausted after exercising or experiencing extreme fatigue that interferes with daily tasks, this could be an indicator that you are not drinking enough water.

If your dehydration causes breathing difficulty, medical attention or hospitalization may be required to assist in its treatment. IV hydration therapy typically contains fluids as well as salt and sugar in order to quickly rehydrate.

Older adults are particularly at risk of dehydration because their bodies lose fluid faster, they have decreased thirst sensation, and many medications increase urination (such as diuretics).

Dehydration can be life-threatening, which is why it’s essential to drink lots of liquids every day. This is particularly crucial during warm or active periods. Be sure to drink extra fluids if experiencing fever, vomiting or diarrhea and discuss prevention measures with your healthcare provider. Be wary of signs of dehydration among elderly family and friends and request help if needed.

5. Diarrhea

Dehydration symptoms range from dry mouth and thirst loss, to diarrhea. Diarrhea may be caused by excess sweating from prolonged heat exposure or intensive exercise, fever or taking medicines which cause diarrhea as well.

Dehydration symptoms can usually be reversed with water consumption; however, severe dehydration requires immediate medical assistance as it may lead to low blood pressure, stroke or heart failure and potentially be fatal.

Infants and children, those experiencing vomiting or diarrhea frequently, athletes engaging in endurance activities or sweating excessively due to exercising or hot weather, older adults (thirst decreases with age), people living with chronic illnesses such as kidney disease or those taking medications such as diuretics, antihistamines or blood pressure medication are at particular risk of dehydration.

Drinking water is essential for keeping skin soft and flexible, absorbing nutrients efficiently, eliminating waste efficiently, and improving hydration levels (5). Water can help improve urine color if dehydration has set in; in an ideal state it should be pale yellow while darker hues indicate that fluid loss has occurred (5). While drinking more water might help improve its color further, for additional information consult a health professional directly.