Am I dehydrated?

By Brooke Strickland

In the summer heat, it’s easy to get busy with all the fun activities to do outside and forget to replenish your body with lots of water.  Dehydration occurs when your body doesn’t have enough water to operate on throughout the day.  Your system becomes like a desert – it simply starts drying out.  It can occur for a lot of reasons, not only just forgetting to drink enough.  Dehydration can also happen if you’ve been sick with excessive vomiting, diarrhea, or fever.  In addition, excessive sweating in hot or humid weather or increased urination with some diseases such as diabetes can increase the amount of fluid you’re losing. 

So, how do you know if you’re dehydrated? 

Mild to moderate dehydration can cause:

-Dry and sticky mouth
-Sleepiness or tiredness
-Decreased urine output
-Few or no tears when crying
-Dry skin
-Dizziness or feeling lightheaded 

However, when you’ve gone without fluids for a significant period of time, serious dehydration can occur, which is truly a medical emergency, and one that may require hospitalization.  Symptoms include lack of sweating, extreme thirst, sunken eyes, low blood pressure, rapid heartbeat or breathing, fever, little or no urination, and in extreme cases, unconsciousness can occur.   If not treated, swelling of the brain, seizures, low blood volume shock, kidney failure, or coma can all happen. 

Basically, a good way to gauge if you’re dehydrated is to watch the color of your urine.  If it is light-colored or clear, then you’re fully hydrated.  If it’s dark yellow or amber, it’s time to start drinking more fluid.  The best drink of course, is water, but other drinks like Gatorade or Powerade can help get you hydrated fast.

If you’re a parent, and you suspect your child is dehydrated, make sure to get them to drink as much as possible, whether it be water, juice, or Pedialyte.  If your children develops diarrhea, can’t keep down fluids or has a severe lack of urination, call your doctor immediately.  These can be signs of serious dehydration and medical attention is needed.