Our bodies are 60% water, and for our organism to function well, we need to constantly intake the water that we naturally lose. If our water balance is out of whack, we won’t feel as good, our organs won’t function optimally, and we won’t look our best either.
Dehydration results when we take in less water (from fluids or water-containing foods), than we eliminate. We constantly lose water through urine and stool, sweat, and with every breath, we exhale water vapor.
All our body systems depend on water, but sometimes we are not aware that our fluids are low. We are especially prone to dehydration when exercising, in hot weather, or when sweating. Also, the elderly, with more delicate systems, are more prone to suffer problems from dehydration.
Symptoms of dehydration in adults
Often the first indicator of dehydration, however, older adults have less sensitive thirst indicators, as the sense of thirst decreases with age. So especially older people need to be conscious to drink more water, even without feeling thirsty.
2) Change in amount or color of urine
Urine is a great indicator of hydration, since most water that leaves our body goes through our kidneys. When well hydrated, your urine will be clear and pale yellow in color. If dehydrated, it will be darker yellow and may have a stronger odor, as it is more concentrated. Dehydration also causes decreased urine output.
3) Fatigue or sleepiness
Fatigue is usually from another cause, but it might be, at least in part, dehydration. Research shows that losing only 1 to 3 percent of our body weight in water can cause fatigue. And, if you are exercising and dehydrated, you will have less endurance than if you were well hydrated.
Dehydration may trigger headaches in people who are headache-prone.
5) Change in skin elasticity
We all know the importance of well-hydrated skin. When dehydrated, your body moves water from the skin to more important internal organs. Well-hydrated skin will snap back to normal after being pinched. If your skin takes more than a half-second to snap back to normal, then you are too dry.
6) Muscle cramps
Cramps caused by dehydration most commonly occur with excessive sweating, when you lose both water and sodium. Muscle contraction relies on a good electrolyte balance, and sometimes, when you are depleted, your muscles may contract involuntary, resulting in a cramp.
7) Feeling light-headed, dizzy, or fainting
Dehydration may lower your blood pressure, most notable when you change from lying down to standing. More severe dehydration may cause more drastic drops in blood pressure, with blurred vision, nausea, and fainting.
8) Confusion, irritability, difficulty concentrating
Brain functioning can drop significantly with dehydration, and older adults may commonly show confusion. We all have greater mental clarity when well hydrated.
9) Rapid heart beat or palpitations
A dehydrated person’s heart will beat faster to try to compensate for the lack of fluid in the body. Low fluid levels means less volume in your blood vessels, and your heart beats faster to push the (contracted) blood through your system.
Best indicator of hydration
Probably the single best indicator that you are well hydrated is that your urine is pale yellow in color. If darker, you likely need to drink more water.
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