Nine Signs of Dehydration

Wednesday, June 7 2017 10:51 AM

signs of dehydrationOur bodies are made up of 50-75% water, so it makes sense that we need to replenish the water that’s lost. When we fail to do that, whether it’s because of sweating, overexertion, hot weather or just not enough water, we can begin to feel sluggish and weak—or worse. Here are nine signs that your body may be experiencing dehydration.


When your body is experiencing dehydration, your blood pressure drops. This is because there is a lack of water and oxygen in the blood. As a result, the heart has to work harder in order to supply the skin and muscles with oxygen and nutrients. Nearly all body functions need fluid as fuel, and even small changes with fluid balance can affect our fatigue levels. If dehydration progresses, the body redirects blood to the working muscles and away from the skin, impairing your body's ability to diffuse heat, which will then cause fatigue.

Urine is Dark in Color

Dark yellow urine is one of the first signs of dehydration. This typically occurs when blood pressure levels fall and the kidneys attempt to store water instead of expel it from the body. If you’re ever worried about dehydration due to dark colored urine, don’t down a lot of water to replenish your body as it can make you sick. Instead, slowly add water back to your body to prevent dehydration.

Keep in mind that urine can change in color due a variety of reasons, including certain foods you’ve eaten or medication you’ve taken.


When your blood pressure drops due to dehydration, a feeling of dizziness or a loss of vision can follow if you stand up too quickly. As dehydration sets in, you may notice your heartbeat and breathing becoming more rapid. You may feel like you can’t catch your breath, and you may feel tired and weak. In advanced cases of dehydration, you may become delirious and even lose consciousness.

Fast Heart Rate

Dehydration often causes electrolyte levels to decrease, which can lead to an increased heart rate and heart palpitations. As blood pressure drops, breathing and heart rate will increase. If you suspect dehydration, you can manually take your pulse and blood pressure reading lying down and again standing up. Take it for one minute each time as blood pressure will naturally drop a few seconds if you go from laying down to standing. Inadequate fluid in the blood will cause dehydration, quickening the heart rate and causing dizziness as inadequate blood is flowing to the brain.


Fluid levels within the body keep our temperatures regulated so we don’t become overheated. If you are overheated due to physical exertion, you may become dehydrated due to fluid loss due to excessive perspiration. You can also suffer fluid loss from being too hot outside. Make sure to always bring water with you if you plan to exercise in a hot environment.

Muscles Cramp Easily

When electrolytes such as sodium and potassium are low, it can cause muscle spasms. A muscle cramp or spasm occurs when a muscle can’t relax. We’re used to contracting and controlling our muscles voluntarily, but muscles can contract or spasm completely involuntarily if we are dehydrated. 

Dehydration can cause muscles to go from experiencing annoying muscle spasms to painful muscle cramps. This occurs when muscles contract and harden for a period of time that can last between a few seconds to hours. Muscle cramping with dehydration often occurs in the abdominal muscles or a calf muscle. Hydrating can ease the pain and prevent continued cramping.

Skin Loses Elasticity

To check on your dehydration levels, perform a quick “pinch test”. You can do this by pinching your skin on the back of your hand and seeing how long it takes to lie flat again. Your skin should snap back rapidly. If your skin maintains it’s pinched shape for a few seconds and drops slowly, you may be dehydrated.

Crying Doesn’t Produce Tears

If you’re crying and stop producing tears it’s a good cue that you’re dehydrated. Along with the absence of tears, dehydration may cause the eyes to appear sunken into your head. The absence of urination is also a sign of dehydration.

Excessive Thirst

Dehydration can cause excessive thirst and a lack of moisture in the mucous membranes such as your mouth, throat or tongue. Your tongue can even swell in cases of extreme dehydration.

However, if you wait to drink until you feel thirsty, you may already be slightly dehydrated. Thirst can send confusing signals to the body and brain, such as mistaking hunger for thirst. However, “dry mouth,” which is a dry, parched, thick feeling in the mouth can signal a more advanced stage of dehydration.

Dehydration can cause major medical issues and leave you bedridden for days. Always be sure to drink plenty of water, especially when exercising or staying outdoors in the heat. If you suspect dehydration, call your doctor as soon as possible.

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