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Signs of Dehydration and How to Treat It

man wiping forehead sweat

Reviewed by: Amy Surdam

Although summer is ending, hydration is as vital as ever with sports seasons beginning and people returning to school. Whether walking to and from school, practicing for a sports game or hiking on the weekend, taking precautions is vital to avoid dehydration.

Health providers stress the importance of maintaining proper hydration to ensure people stay healthy while doing what they love. Athletes are some of the most vulnerable to dehydration because of their vigorous exercise routines and excessive sweating. The hot Louisiana temperatures combined with all the activities can speed up water loss, leading to dehydration. That’s why hydration for athletes is so important.

Learn about the causes and symptoms of dehydration and what to do if you become dehydrated.

What Causes Dehydration?

Dehydration occurs when your body loses more fluid than what it takes in. If you aren’t replacing the lost fluid, your body can become dehydrated and suffer limitations in performing everyday functions. Common dehydration causes include:

  • Excessive sweating: Sweating can make you dehydrated because you can lose a significant amount of water stored in your body by sweating. If you do not replenish your lost fluid, you will become dehydrated.
  • Fever: Fevers cause people to experience excessive sweating as the body tries to cool down naturally.
  • Diarrhea and vomiting: Diarrhea and vomiting can cause you to lose water and nutrients in a short amount of time. If left untreated, you have an increased chance of becoming severely dehydrated.
  • Heat: You can become dehydrated from the heat. Hot and humid temperatures can increase the amount of fluids and sweat you lose. Maintaining hydration in hot weather is essential to ensuring your safety and health.
  • Medications: Some medications can cause dehydration. Certain medicines have side effects, like diarrhea and vomiting, that can cause individuals to lose fluid or water. You can also become dehydrated after taking drugs for type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure or constipation.
  • Urination: Urinating frequently can also lead to dehydration if you are not drinking enough to keep up with the fluids you’re losing. Alternatively, not urinating enough can also be a sign of dehydration because you haven’t had an adequate amount of liquid to help keep your body functioning. 

For mild to moderate dehydration, drinking more water often helps you rehydrate. If you have severe dehydration, visiting a medical facility is essential.

What Are the Symptoms of Dehydration?

The symptoms of dehydration often vary based on an individual’s age. Infants, children and older adults are often more susceptible to dehydration, as their bodies may not be able to retain fluid or they experience health conditions that cause them to lose water quickly. Athletes and people with chronic illnesses may also be at a higher risk of dehydration.

Common symptoms of dehydration include:

  • Dark yellow urine
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Dry mouth and tongue
  • Sunken eyes
  • Lethargy
  • Muscle cramps
  • Dry skin
  • Confusion
  • Increased heart rate

Thirst is also a common symptom, though it may not be the most reliable. Many people start feeling thirsty after already being dehydrated

Understanding the symptoms of dehydration for children is also essential. While they often can experience the listed symptoms above, there are other unique signs for determining dehydration in children. Some kids may cry without tears because they don’t have enough fluids in their bodies to produce them. For babies, an infant with a dry diaper for more than three hours can also be a sign of dehydration.

When to Seek Medical Attention for Dehydration

Dehydration can become severe when left untreated. You can experience life-threatening conditions like organ failure, brain damage, heatstroke and even death. Know when you need to seek medical attention for severe dehydration by watching out for these signs:

  • Weakness
  • Extreme dizziness
  • Irritability
  • Confusion
  • Lack of alertness or consciousness
  • Not urinating
  • Severe vomiting or diarrhea

You can go to urgent care for dehydration. Health care providers will ensure you receive proper treatment that helps you rehydrate while preventing other medical emergencies. If drinking water is not sufficient or possible because of an illness or injury, you may need to receive an intravenous fluid (IV) to rehydrate.

How to Prevent Dehydration

female riding bike and drinking water

Health care providers often stress the importance of hydration for athletes, especially when training or playing sports under the hot Louisiana sun. The warm and humid weather makes cooling off more challenging, as sweat doesn’t evaporate as quickly, causing body temperatures to rise and an increased need for fluids.

Ensure your athlete stays safe and healthy by taking preventive measures for staying hydrated. Some tips for preventing dehydration include:

  • Keep drinks with you: The most straightforward way to stay hydrated is by ensuring you always have water or other hydrating beverages on hand. You can take sips throughout your event whenever you feel hot or thirsty. If you are busy staying active in the heat, drinking sports drinks can help you regain the electrolytes and minerals lost.
  • Drink extra fluids when out in the heat: You can also avoid dehydration by making drinking water a priority while out in the heat. Your body temperature increases under the sun, so ensure you drink more while out and about. You could also eat water-rich foods, like select fruits and vegetables, to stay hydrated.
  • Avoid consuming alcohol, caffeinated and overly sweet drinks: While some beverages aid in rehydration, others can speed up dehydration. Caffeinated and alcoholic drinks often act as diuretics, making you lose fluids more often, as you need to use the bathroom more. Sugary sodas can also worsen dehydration, potentially leading to kidney-related issues. 
  • Check the weather before planning outdoor activities: Before going outside to play sports or exercise, check the weather to ensure it won’t be too hot. Staying inside during extreme heat days can help you stay safe and cool.
  • Wear loose-fitting clothing: If you have to be outside on hot days, you can avoid excessive sweating by wearing loose-fitting and light-colored clothes. Giving your body room to breathe is essential to prevent overheating and dehydration.

Visit Coastal Urgent Care for Dehydration Help

Maintaining hydration while practicing sports and spending time outdoors is crucial to your health and wellness. If you begin experiencing severe dehydration symptoms, seek medical treatment immediately.

Coastal Urgent Care can help you or a loved one rehydrate. Our team members and providers ensure you can access treatment for various non-critical medical conditions. With our network of clinics throughout Louisiana, you will find a location that meets your needs. We offer comprehensive, customer-centric care for patients of all ages. 

Receive personal and friendly care whenever you visit Coastal Urgent Care. Find a clinic near you today!

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