For the media

5 signs you might be dehydrated

By The Health News Team | July 7, 2021
Friends exercising outdoors while drinking water

The West Coast has been experiencing one of the worst heat waves ever recorded. These extreme temperatures are being blamed on what weather experts call a “heat dome,” which occurs when the atmosphere traps hot ocean air like a lid.

When it is hot like this summer will likely continue to be, people might sweat more than usual. And when we sweat more than usual, we put ourselves at risk for dehydration.

Dehydration occurs when the body loses more fluid than it is taking in, leaving it without enough fluids to work as it should. If left untreated, this can lead to a variety of complications, from loss of strength and stamina, to brain damage or even death.

Signs of dehydration
Other than feeling thirsty, these top 5 signs can indicate dehydration:

  • Dry or sticky mouth

  • Lightheadedness

  • Muscle cramps

  • Flu-like symptoms, such as feeling tired, headachy or nauseated, and having chills

  • Dark, strong-smelling urine or reduced urination

If you think you might be dehydrated, make sure you drink plenty of water. Sports drinks with electrolytes can also help. Take small sips or suck on ice cubes if you are having a hard time keeping the fluids down.

When to seek care
Talk with your doctor if your symptoms continue. A check of your vital signs along with a blood or urine test to determine the levels of sodium and potassium in your body will determining if treatment is needed.

Seek emergency care if you experience any of the following:

  • Fever over 102° F

  • Unusually lethargic or listless

  • Confusion or irritability

  • Seizures

  • Loss of consciousness

  • Not passing urine for 8 or more hours

  • Rapid heartbeat

  • Rapid, deep breathing

  • Dizziness or fainting

  • Sunken eyes

  • Dry, shriveled skin

How to prevent dehydration
To prevent dehydration in the future, drink plenty of fluids throughout each day, and increase fluid intake during hot weather and when exercising.

Try to schedule your summer workouts during cooler times of the day and avoid direct sun exposure, when possible. Remember to apply a water-resistant sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher, and wear a hat and sunglasses, when outdoors on those hot, summer days.

Learn more about sun safety.

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