Could you use some fluids right now? If you're already thirsty, chances are you're dehydrated. Most Americans do not get the amount of fluids they need to function optimally. Up to three-fourths of Americans are chronically dehydrated. Dehydration leads to a range of uncomfortable symptoms, from headaches to tiredness. If left untreated, it can even be life-threatening. Luckily, dehydration is one of the simplest conditions to reverse.
To combat dehydration like a warrior, it helps first to understand what it is and how it works. Get the facts on the basics of dehydration and learn some rehydration tips.
Are you couch-bound with a cold or the flu? Did you drink too much at the wedding reception last night? Most people experience dehydration at one point or another. If you've ever fantasized about drinking a lake's worth of water, you know that dehydration is nothing to laugh about.
Dehydration is a condition caused by the loss of fluids. It occurs when you lose more liquids than you ingest. Up to 60% of the adult human body is composed of water, so it's no wonder dehydration slows us down.
Many times, we don't even know we're dehydrated. Mild dehydration may not produce any noticeable symptoms. Severe dehydration, on the other hand, is enough to make someone feel sick. Any form of dehydration is not ideal for your body and health.
Every day, your body naturally loses water. Urination, which is the result of your kidneys removing waste, is the primary cause of daily water loss. You also lose water through sweating, breathing and creating saliva. Here's an overview of the average water loss adults experience naturally every day:
Some situations, such as working out in the heat, increase water loss. When you can't keep up with the water you lose, you become dehydrated. Here are the conditions that lead to greater water loss:
Anyone at any age can become dehydrated if they don't replace lost fluids. For example, if someone goes hiking during hot weather and does not drink anything, they can become dehydrated quickly, and they could even suffer from heatstroke. Even mild dehydration, or a loss of as little as 1% to 2% of your body weight, can cause you to feel unwell.
The first sign of dehydration is thirst. So, any time you find yourself racing to the refrigerator for a drink, you're already dehydrated. Other symptoms of mild dehydration include:
If you don't listen to your body's need to rehydrate, you'll eventually become severely dehydrated. Severe dehydration may produce the following symptoms:
Children with dehydration may not produce tears when they cry. Anyone who's experiencing severe dehydration requires immediate medical attention.
Are you questioning whether or not you need to up your fluid intake? It's not always easy to tell if you have a case of mild dehydration. But, there are plenty of simple ways to test your hydration level and figure out if you're in serious need of H2O. Here are some easy methods to check for dehydration, which you can do just about anywhere.
All your body cells are made up partially of water. Your skin, in particular, is composed of 64% water. One way to tell if you are dehydrated is to check your skin. Look for signs of dehydration such as:
You can also perform a skin elasticity test. Here's how:
How long did the process take? The longer it takes, the more dehydrated you are. A well-hydrated skin system will settle back into place immediately.
Now – there is a caveat to this test. The older you are, the less elasticity your skin has, no matter how hydrated you are.
You might not be able to perform the nail test if you like to paint your nails. But, if you're in-between colors, it's an easy way to test for dehydration. Here's how to perform the nail test:
When you press on your nail, it turns white because the pressure pushes the blood out. Usually, the blood returns in 2 seconds or less. If you're dehydrated, it'll take longer.
How well could you name all the shades of yellow? Sunshine yellow, hay bale yellow, amber, honey, maybe even chartreuse? If you can't name the actual color — that's fine. You just need to understand lighter and darker to determine your hydration levels.
Hydrated pee should still be yellow, but more like the pastel color of yellow you'd paint a nursery or see at Easter. It should not be clear — overhydration is a thing, too.
You should never let your pee get any darker than lemonade, or else you're dehydrated. If it starts to look more like apple juice or honey than lemonade — you need fluids, stat.
If it's even darker than apple juice or is bloody or red, please go to urgent care or call your physician (and make sure you didn't just eat a lot of beets).
No one likes the sensation of thirst. It's your body's way of saying, "Hey, drink something already." If you're worried about dehydration, know that there are plenty of ways to keep it from happening. Here are some tips to help you beat dehydration under any circumstances:
You may have heard that you need to drink eight glasses of water a day. This is only a general guideline. The 64-ounces-of-water-a-day model we were originally taught is only enough water if you weigh 125 pounds or less. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, American adult men weigh about 198 pounds, and women weigh around 170 pounds on average. Other factors besides weight, such as your activity levels, affect how much you really need to drink. The point is, more often than not, eight glasses a day is usually not enough. So, how much is enough, then?
Take your body weight and divide it in half. That's roughly the amount of water you need to drink in ounces per day. If you exercise or sweat from being outside, double the amount of your regular fluid intake.
Knowing that, do you get even close to the right amount of water you need per day? To be clear, if you weigh 160 pounds, you need 80 ounces of water a day to stay properly hydrated. If you're still not sure how much water you should be drinking daily, don't be afraid to reach out to your doctor and ask.
Even when you're mildly dehydrated, you might feel like you're lost in the desert. What's happening to your body when it's screaming for water? To understand what goes on when you're dehydrated, it first helps to know your body's relationship with water. To give you an idea of how important water is to your health, consider the following:
What do all these numbers mean? Simply said, you're mostly made of water. Water helps your body:
Water plays such an important role in your body because it easily dissolves many substances that make critical nutrients and minerals accessible to your cells and enables chemical processes. Also, water's "sticky" surface helps transport the proteins and carbohydrates your body uses as food and then helps eliminate waste. When you drink water, your digestive tract absorbs it for your body to use.
Think of electrolytes. Water dissolves electrolytes in your body, and the two work together to keep you healthy. To demonstrate, can you remember a time when you ate too much sodium, maybe from a salty snack? Did you feel thirsty afterward? If so, it was because your sodium level was too high. As a result, your brain sent signals to make you feel thirsty and reach for a drink. Drinking helps restore the electrolyte balance in your blood.
As you can see, your body works in surprising ways. However, it needs you to do your part and keep it hydrated. If you lose access to water or go too long without drinking, you'll likely experience the following stages of dehydration:
If left untreated, dehydration progresses quickly. You might experience delirium, confusion, seizures, shock, and, ultimately, organ damage if you don't rehydrate.
You can treat dehydration by replacing the fluids and electrolytes you lost. The severity and cause of your dehydration, along with your age, will help you or your doctor determine the best treatment method. For example, children and infants who are dehydrated as a result of vomiting or diarrhea might take an over-the-counter rehydration solution, while older children can have diluted sports drinks. Adults with mild dehydration due to illness or drinking too much alcohol can feel better by drinking fluids.
If you're suffering from a mild case of dehydration and don't feel like running out to the grocery for sports drinks, you can concoct a home remedy. Here's a simple rehydration solution you can make at home if you have a few basic ingredients on hand:
Adults and large children can drink the solution until they feel better. If you want to improve the taste, you can add half a cup of orange juice or mashed banana.
Whether you're a child or an adult, you should seek emergency medical attention if you're severely dehydrated. Severe, and sometimes moderate cases call for a dehydration IV. Intravenous rehydration delivers fluids and salts directly through the vein. This enables a fast and effective recovery.
Most people in America are chronically dehydrated. If you're like the majority, there's no need to panic — you have options. Treating dehydration as early as possible will get you back in shape and keep it from turning into something dangerous.
If you're dehydrated, whether it be from spending the day outdoors or suffering a hangover, AZ IV Medics can help. When you don't feel great, the last thing you want to do is wait in line at the emergency room. We bring our IV services to you so that you can rehydrate quickly and comfortably at home. Our quick procedure has you rehydrated and relieved faster than it takes to drink an adequate amount of water. Best of all, you never have to leave the couch.
You have choices when it comes to the combination of vitamins and electrolytes you want to get. What you need could be completely different from what our last patient required, or even what your partner needs. Our most popular option is the Myer's Cocktail. It's a blend of saline (salt), vitamin B, vitamin C, zinc, magnesium, and glutathione. It's the best treatment for hangovers, when you feel like you're getting sick, right after you got sick, migraines, fatigue and more.
You can look here for all the combinations of packages we offer — plus browse our range of add-ins.
Finally, did you know that being dehydrated could be the reason why you're always tired? Why it seems like coffee makes you more sleepy, instead of less? Don't let that stay your reality. Text us or give us a call at 623-521-5034, and we'll be right over with our IV mobile unit to help! You can also fill out our online contact form to reach us!
Last Reviewed By Matt Heistan on September 12, 2019