By the time you feel thirsty, you’re already dehydrated.
But thirst isn’t the only symptom of dehydration…there are many signs, some surprising and others very subtle, that you are dehydrated. Signs of thirst would be dry eyes, headache, sluggishness, nausea, dizziness, dry skin, constipation, dark yellow urine, or dry mouth. By the time this happens, you’ve already reached one of these levels of dehydration:
(Source: 2008, Understanding Nutrition, p. 398, Copyright 2008 by Wadsworth Cengage Learning)
1-2% Fluid Loss: thirst, fatigue, vague discomfort. These symptoms are often subtle and with the exception of thirst, are not usually associated with dehydration.
3-4% Fluid Loss: impaired physical performance, dry mouth, reduction in urine, flushed skin, impatience, apathy. This is typically when someone will realize they are dehydrated.
5-6% Fluid Loss: difficulty concentrating, headache, irritability, sleepiness, impaired temperature regulation, increased respiratory rate. Dehydration begins to get dangerous at this point, and if action is not taken, further fluid loss could lead to severe consequences.
7-8% Fluid Loss: dizziness, spastic muscles, loss of balance, delirium, exhaustion, collapse. Very dangerous level of dehydration, medical attention should be sought immediately.
Other symptoms of dehydration include but are not limited to decreased sweat rate, water retention, and dry skin.
You can avoid dehydration by consuming a steady intake of water throughout the day. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink water. Look for my post next week on tips to staying hydrated and tools to keep you on track with your water intake!