Symptoms and Causes of Dehydration

Everyone is at risk of suffering from dehydration if they don’t get enough water. About 75% of your body is made of water hence you cannot survive without it. Children and older adults are likely to be more affected by the condition. Athletes and individuals at higher altitudes have higher chances of being dehydrated.

How do you know that you or someone that you love has dehydration? Here are the signs that you should look out for. They may vary depending on the age of the individual.

Symptoms of Dehydration in Adults


Dehydrated adults may feel thirsty and hungrier than usual. It is an indication that your body craves more water. If you have high body weight, you should take more water often because you are more likely to suffer from dehydration.

Less Frequent Urination and Dark-Colored Urine

You can tell if you are dehydrated or not by observing how often you urinate. If you are doing it fewer times than normal, you need to drink water. Additionally, dark yellow or amber urine shows that you need to hydrate. Usually, people who are hydrated enough have light urine.


Tiredness is also among the signs and symptoms of dehydration. When the amount of water in your body is low, you will feel exhausted even when you are resting. This is due to the low blood pressure that is caused by the condition. Drinking more water helps to raise your energy levels; enabling you to feel less fatigued.

Confusion and Reduced Brain Function

Dehydrated individuals tend to be unfocused. You are likely to be less alert if your body lacks enough water. Concentrating on tasks at hand becomes difficult, and you may start forgetting things. With these symptoms, you may cause accidents while driving or perform poorly at work.

Change in Moods

Have you had mood swings lately? You may be dehydrated, and drinking water can help to change that. Research shows that dehydration often leads to feelings of anxiety, depression, and even tension, especially when you are around people. You may also be highly irritable.

Dizziness and Nausea

If you are feeling dizzy and nauseous, you should probably check the last time you took a glass of water. Nausea might lead to vomiting, and this makes it even more life-threatening because it causes more loss of water. It is usually a result of low blood pressure that is caused by reduced water levels in the body.


This is a common sign that you are dehydrated and it worsens with time if you don’t drink water. Your stool will be dry and hard; you might even feel pain when defecating. This is because water is necessary for quality food digestion. It also eases waste movement along your digestive tract.

Rough or Drier Skin

A dehydrated individual has rough or flaking skin. Other signs of dehydration that you can observe on your skin to know if you need water include flushing/redness and tightening. If your lips have been cracking, it is also an indication that you should hydrate.

Signs of Dehydration in Infants and Young Kids

Dry Diapers for Three Hours

If your baby’s diaper has been dry for three or more hours, he or she is suffering from dehydration. They may also cry when defecating. Furthermore, their stool may be hard and bloody due to bruising of the anal canal.

Dry Lips and Tongue

This is another symptom that you should look out for in young children to know if they are dehydrated. Their mouth is drier than usual. Their lips may also be cracking.


Healthy, hydrated children are jovial. If you notice that your young one is irritable, it might be because they are not getting enough water. They may also cry a lot but with a little or no tears at all.


To notice that your child has been sleeping more than usual, you must have observed their sleeping pattern. Their excess sleepiness maybe as a result of lack of enough energy to stay awake due to dehydration.


High fever in kids shows that they are dehydrated. This might make them uncomfortable. Consequently, this prevents them from concentrating on what they are doing. It might also keep them from playing with other kids.

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Dehydration, in both adults and children, is caused by different reasons. Here are some of them:

Vomiting or Diarrhea

These are some of the most common dehydration causes. You may vomit or suffer from acute diarrhea because you are unwell. During such instances, you lose a lot of water, and unless you start drinking fluids, the condition worsens.

Excessive Sweating

Dehydration occurs when you sweat a lot. It might be because you are engaging in rigorous activities without taking time to drink enough water. Fevers are also known to increase sweating in the human body. To prevent dehydration due to sweating, make sure that you replace fluids that you lose after exercises or other activities. You can do this by taking sports drinks.

High Altitudes

If you move to places with higher altitudes, you may be dehydrated. Your body acclimates by increasing the times you urinate and speeding your rate of breathing. This means that you lose more water than normal. Should you forget to take water regularly, you are likely to have dehydration.


Mothers who are breastfeeding may get dehydrated. When a woman breastfeeds her baby, she loses proteins, minerals as well as water from her body. That is why a mother is encouraged to drink more fluids to stay hydrated.

Increased Frequency of Urination

For several reasons, you may be urinating more frequently than the usual. It could be because of uncontrolled diabetes. It might also be due to alcohol consumption since it is an antidiuretic hormone inhibitor. Furthermore, there are some types of high blood pressure medications and diuretics that can increase the number of times that you urinate in a day.


This can be a cause of dehydration. Pregnancy comes with increased cardiac output and blood volume; that increase your fluid needs. Furthermore, morning sickness causes nausea that leads to vomiting. Unless you increase your fluid intake while pregnant, you are likely to get dehydrated.

Easy Dehydration Tests

The Nail Capillary Refill Test

Whenever you pinch the bed of your nail, it is supposed to whiten or blanch because blood has been forced out. If you are hydrated, the blood is supposed to return in at most two seconds. However, if you are not, it may take more time to go back to your nail’s normal shade.

The Turgor Test

You can also use the skin elasticity test to know whether or not you are dehydrated. To do it, pinch your arm’s or stomach’s skin, gently, to make a “tent-like” shape, then let it go. If it returns to its normal position in three or fewer seconds, you are alright. If it takes more time, you might be dehydrated.

Dehydration is a dangerous condition that is caused by excessive body fluid loss. It may lead to irritability, fatigue, cracking skin, lack of focus and even some severe conditions like kidney stones. To prevent it, ensure that you drink water regularly.


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