Water is the main element of the human organism, since it is present in 60%-70% of its own composition. Water and mineral salts (electrolytes) are essential for life and for our body to perform its vital functions. Through the daily intake of liquids and foods rich in water we manage to maintain the water balance we need to stay properly hydrated but, sometimes, that balance is broken, that is, we eliminate more liquids than we take and that is when some symptoms may appear that indicate that we are dehydrated. At these first symptoms, you have to act immediately by replenishing the fluids that the body demands, because prolonged dehydration can cause serious health problems.
It's normal to wonder ” how do you know if I'm dehydrated?” Sometimes, we may not be aware that we are not drinking enough water, so in this article we detail the main symptoms so that you can take the appropriate measures.
Thirst and dry mouth
The human organism is an extraordinary mechanism and warns us, in a natural way, of the need to ingest liquids when it is essential to replenish them. Feeling thirsty is the first sign that we must drink water to stop the dehydration process and its consequences. The greater the sensation of thirst, especially if you notice the dry or pasty mouth, the clearer that signal indicates that we need to drink water as soon as possible.
We recommend you read this other article Why I am very thirsty and dry mouth.
Infrequent urination and dark urine
If at a certain time you consider how to know if you are dehydrated, look at the number of urinations you do per day. A healthy adult who drinks 1.5 – 2 liters of water a day, an amount recommended by institutions such as the World Health Organization (WHO) or the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA), urinates approximately every 3 – 4 hours, an average that indicates a good water balance.
A lower number of urinations can be a symptom of dehydration, especially if the urine has a dark hue instead of having a pale yellow, almost transparent color. In this sense, it is also important to monitor the urine in babies, since not wetting the diaper for more than three hours can be indicative that the little one may be dehydrating.
Dry skin with lack of elasticity
Not always dry skin, even with the presence of excessive peeling, has external causes such as the action of the sun or the wind. It can also be a clue to whether you're dehydrated. The lack of water causes the skin to lose its natural elasticity. Try pinching a small piece of skin from your forearm or the back of your hand and see if it quickly returns to its starting position. If it is not and it is wrinkled with the pinch marked, you may not be properly hydrated.
You will need to drink water, better in small amounts but more often, and you will also do well to apply some of these home remedies for dry skin of the body.
Cramps and rise in body temperature
They are two symptoms of dehydration that occur mainly after a significant physical effort that has involved the loss of fluids and electrolytes, mainly through sweating and urine. After intense exercise, it is not uncommon to experience a feeling of warmth accompanied by facial redness, something that warns of the need to replenish lost fluids. Cramps also put on alert about lack of water that the muscles are demanding for their physical recovery after exercise.
As we have indicated, water is essential for the body to carry out all its vital functions, including the digestive process, from its beginning, in the formation of the food bolus, to its end, with the expulsion of waste substances through the feces. Fiber and water play a fundamental role in the correct intestinal transit and their scarce presence can slow it down, triggering episodes of constipation.
If you suffer from constipation and you see that, perhaps among other factors, you are drinking little water, a very good way to improve it is to take infusions. We recommend you to know the best infusions for constipation.
Fatigue and headache
Sometimes the signs of being dehydrated are not easy to recognize. There are many causes that can trigger headaches and general malaise but, sometimes, it is the water imbalance that can end up generating fatigue and frequent migraines. If you go through a period of tiredness that seems inexplicable, decay and even experience some irritability, you may not be drinking all the water your body is needing. It can also happen in a short period of time, that you are too hot, your body temperature rises a lot and you lack fluid, dehydrating you and feeling tired and with a headache.
Here you can read about How to remove heat headache.
Dizziness, confusion and drowsiness
Dizziness, even accompanied by nausea, feeling drowsy and confusion can be symptoms of severe dehydration, which manifests itself when 5% or more of the body's fluids have been lost. This situation requires immediate medical attention, especially if these symptoms are prolonged or if this situation is accompanied by an increase in heart rate and other symptoms.
How to Prevent Dehydration
In most cases, preventing dehydration is simple, since our body warns of the need to drink water and it is enough to pay attention to drinking liquids whenever we feel thirsty. The problem is that we do not always feel it clearly, especially in the case of the elderly, so we must monitor that we cover our water needs taking into account our own characteristics: age, muscle mass, physical effort made … and remember the amounts of water we should drink daily (drinking even without thirst).
It is also important to know that these amounts must be adapted and increased at specific times, such as: after the practice of intense physical activity, at the hottest times of the year or before diseases that involve the loss of fluids through vomiting or diarrhea. Here you can read about How many liters of water there is to drink per day.
In addition to drinking plenty of fluids whenever needed, drinking water-rich fruits and vegetables is a good way to prevent dehydration.
The juices, the infusions, the broths… they also provide us with the fluids that the body needs. On the other hand, you must remember that alcoholic beverages favor dehydration, so to prevent it, it is better to exclude them from a healthy diet or limit their consumption.