By Dr. Ritu Krishnatreye, BHMS
Dehydration signs and symptoms
Dehydration occurs when body fluid levels drop too low.
Conditions such as vomiting, diarrhea and excessive perspiration during exercise can cause a loss of fluids and electrolytes from the body.
The symptoms can be mild, moderate or severe depending upon how much water loss there is.
At times, dehydration may be difficult to detect. However, the body does give certain signs to help us recognize the shortage of water and the need to re-hydrate ourselves.
Keeping an eye open for these signs and symptoms can help prevent the negative impact of dehydration on the body.
This is the most typical symptom of dehydration.
However, contrary to common perception, thirst is an unreliable and relatively late symptom of dehydration.
Chewed food enters the colon as a liquid mush. One of the jobs of the colon is to take this mush and extract water to turn it into solid waste.
If the body is dehydrated:
Dark yellow urine is an initial sign and symptom of dehydration.
This happens when there is lack of water in the body and the kidneys conserve water rather than expel it. The contents of what is expelled is more concentrated, which gives it the dark yellow color.
Dehydration impacts the normal functioning of the body. Blood is primarily composed of water.
A lack of water results in the heart having to work harder to pump blood throughout the body. This lowers the blood’s efficiency in distributing oxygen and nutrients, resulting in tiredness and fatigue.
Dry mouth is one of the early signs of dehydration; however it can be an unreliable symptom.
A person might be hydrated, but have dry mouth due to dry air, mouth breathing, anxiety or other strong emotions, or inflammation of the parotid glands.
Dehydration lessens the amount of water in blood.
This drops a person’s blood pressure, which leads to dizziness. This dizziness, this other sign of dehydration, is often felt right after standing up too quickly.
Water in the body helps in regulating body temperature. When body temperature rises, our bodies release sweat.
When sweat evaporates, it lowers skin temperature and thereby body temperature. When a person is dehydrated they sweat less, which may cause the body to become overheated. In extreme cases, a person may even suffer a heat stroke.
Dehydration leads to an electrolyte imbalance, especially when a person doesn't replenish electrolytes and just drinks water to satisfy their thirst.
Electrolytes which are essential for muscle contraction. When magnesium, sodium and potassium levels drop in the body, it may lead to painful muscle spasms or cramps.
Another sign of dehydration is that the skin loses elasticity.
The pinch test is a quick and easy way of testing skin elasticity. If you pinch your skin and if bounces back quickly to normal, then the elasticity is still there.
However, if the skin returns to a normal state slowly, then the skin has lost some elasticity, and it may be time to start drinking electrolyte rich water.
Our bodies need the correct balance of body fluids and electrolytes.
The proper electrolyte balance is critical for nerve and brain to function, and muscle co-ordination.
Calcium, sodium, potassium, magnesium and chlorine are the five important electrolytes that play a crucial role in maintaining healthy hydration levels in the body.
Besides these, there are trace mineral electrolytes that also play a role.
To overcome dehydration, start by drinking plenty of water and other fluids throughout the day.
Ginger ale, buttermilk and lemon juice are each helpful for restoring body fluid. An excellent electrolyte replacement product is concentrated sea minerals.
They contain sodium, magnesium, potassium, chloride and the full spectrum of trace mineral electrolytes.
The above mentioned signs are indicative of insufficient fluid and electrolytes in the body.
As soon as you notice these dehydration signs and symptoms, it is important to take the necessary steps to re-hydrate your body.
Having the correct balance of fluids to electrolytes in the body help the body to function properly, both physically and mentally.