Recognizing the Symptoms of Dehydration

A surprisingly high number of people, even healthy adults, become dehydrated on a regular basis. One of the earliest signs is thirst, but by the time you are thirsty you are already suffering the effects of dehydration. Severe and chronic forms of the condition can be serious, and when left untreated they can cause seizures and organ damage. Being able to recognizing the many symptoms of dehydration is the best way to prevent it from doing permanent harm or even becoming life threating.

Mild Dehydration

A person is considered mildly dehydrated when they have lost around 2% of their total fluids. At this level the condition is unlikely to do lasting damage to organs, but it can slow down your metabolism and interfere with your digestion. Common symptoms include:

  • Thirst
  • Dry skin
  • Headaches
  • Dark urine
  • Urinating infrequently (only 3 or 4 times a day)
  • Tiredness

You may not always feel the symptoms of mild dehydration, so it advisable to actively prevent the condition rather than simply react when symptoms occur.

Moderate Dehydration

Moderate dehydration is a water loss within the body of 5%. At this point the condition can still be reversed by drinking fluids, and it does not usually require any medical intervention. However, if fluid levels remain low over an extended period, organ and joint function can be affected, and when left untreated it can quickly become severe. Symptoms include:

  • Muscle cramps
  • Nausea
  • Tingling sensation in limbs
  • Extreme fatigue

Severe Dehydration

A fluid loss of 10% is counted as severe dehydration. It is considered a medical emergency, because it can quickly cause permanent damage to vital organs, including the kidneys and brain, and even be fatal. Possible symptoms include:

  • Dry or wrinkled skin that does not quickly spring back into position when pinched
  • Not passing urine for over 8 hours, or a complete inability to urinate
  • Sunken eyes
  • Irritability
  • Weak pulse
  • Low blood pressure
  • Fits
  • Low level of consciousness

This list details some, but not all, of the symptoms of dehydration. To avoid becoming dehydrated you only need to drink around 1.2 liters of water per day, or more if you are physically active. If you suspect that you or a child is severely dehydrated, you should seek medical help immediately.