Symptoms of dehydration and how to stay hydrated this summer

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Water accounts for more than half of the human body weight. When we lose more water than we take in, we run the risk of dehydration. How can we tell if we are dehydrated and how can this best be avoided?

By Allianz Care | July 2, 2018

Allianz Care - dehydration

Dehydration occurs when your body doesn't have enough fluids to carry out its normal functions. It is especially dangerous for young children and older adults, but anyone can become dehydrated if they don’t consume enough water.

Risk factors for dehydration

Sometimes dehydration occurs for simple reasons: You don't drink enough because you're sick or busy, or because you lack access to safe drinking water when you're traveling, hiking or camping.

Everyone’s water needs are different, and some people will be more at risk of dehydration than others, particularly those who:

  • Live in hot climates
  • Exercise vigorously
  • Work or exercise outdoors in hot climates
  • Have a fever - the higher the fever, the greater the risk of dehydration
  • Are experiencing diarrhoea
  • Are suffering from vomiting
  • Are pregnant
  • Are breastfeeding
  • Are trying to lose weight

Mild to moderate dehydration can usually be reversed by drinking more fluids, but severe dehydration requires immediate medical treatment.

Symptoms of dehydration

Thirst isn't always a reliable early indicator of the body's need for water. Indeed many people, particularly older adults, don't feel thirsty until they're already dehydrated.

It is very important that people recognise the signs of dehydration:

  • Extreme thirst
  • Low volumes of urine
  • Less frequent urination
  • Urine that is dark brown in colour
  • Dry mouth
  • Sleepiness or fatigue
  • Extreme thirst
  • Headache
  • Dizziness

Tips to help stay hydrated

There are many benefits to drinking enough water. To ensure you consume enough to meet your daily requirements to stay hydrated, try some of the following:

  • Increase water intake during hot weather or when you're ill
  • Keep a bottle of water with you during the day
  • If you don’t like the taste of plain water, try adding a slice of lemon or lime to your drink
  • Make an effort to hydrate before exercise, during exercise and after exercise
  • When you’re feeling hungry, drink water. Thirst is often confused with hunger
  • If you have trouble remembering to drink water, drink on a schedule. For example, drink a small glass of water at the beginning of each hour
  • When socialising drink a glass of water between alcoholic drinks

If you are at risk of dehydration, don’t wait until you notice symptoms before you take remedial action. Actively prevent dehydration by drinking plenty of water.

If you are concerned that you are not drinking enough water, speak with your doctor or a registered dietitian, who will help you determine the amount of water that's right for you.

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