Seriousness of Dehydration

What are the symptoms of dehydration?

Symptoms of dehydration may vary according to the individual person and depending on a possible underlying cause. Dehydration symptoms can be acute and appear suddenly, like after an illness involving repeated vomiting and diarrhea. Dehydration can also be ongoing especially when a person does not drink enough fluids.
Some people, especially the elderly, may not be aware they have symptoms of dehydration because they may not recognize them nor attribute them to dehydration.
Symptoms of mild dehydration may include:
Dry lips and tongue, Dry skin, Mild headache, & Thirst
There are serious dehydration symptoms that could indicate a life-threatening condition. Seek immediate medical care (or call 911) if you or someone you are with have any of the following symptoms or any combination of these symptoms:
Change in consciousness or decreased alertness
Unresponsiveness and lethargy
Chest pain or discomfort
Inability of an infant to eat, drink, produce tears and/or respond normally
Muscle cramps and weakness
Nausea and vomiting
Not urinating or having urine that is very dark yellow, orange or brown in color
Sunken eyes
Moderate to severe dehydration can be a serious and sometimes life threatening event if not quickly recognized and treated. Dehydration can also be indicative of some very serious underlying conditions, like type 1 diabetes or kidney failure. Seek medical attention immediately!


It’s especially important when summer temperatures and humidity start to rise to make sure you stay hydrated. Some hydration tips include:
Eating water-filled foods like watermelon, is an easy and refreshing way to ensure fluid intake.
Hydrate before exercising. Be sure to drink water before exercising to help maximize your workout.
When traveling this summer don’t forget to drink water while in route, even if it means having to make extra stops for restroom breaks.
Stay hydrated at work, even while working indoors it’s important to keep fluids available.
Drink water before meals. By drinking water before meals will you stay hydrated AND you’re less likely to overeat.
Have enough fluids on hand. When you’re spending the day outdoors, camping or biking, it’s important to bring enough water to last the entire trip.
You can always add flavors to water if you have trouble drinking it plain- lemon, lime and other juicy fruits can add some natural flavoring.
It’s important to keep track of your daily water intake. Keeping a reusable water bottle with you is a great way to track your water intake. Having a full water bottle with you at all times is one of the easiest ways to stay healthy & hydrated without even thinking about it!

-Katie Bell, BSN, RN

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