Water plays so many roles in the human body, from regulating your body temperature to processing nutrients and lubricating your joints. You lose water every day through bodily processes like breathing, urinating, defecating, and sweating. Dehydration occurs when you lose more fluids than you take in. If you know what signs to look for and keep an eye on your urine color, you can take steps to increase your fluid and electrolyte intake and avoid any serious consequences. 

1. Know the physical signs of dehydration

Dehydration doesn’t just sneak up on you out of nowhere. There are various physical signs that you’re dehydrated, and you need to pay attention if you experience them. 

  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Thirst
  • Muscle cramps
  • Dry mouth, eyes, and lips
  • Irritability 
  • Confusion
  • Dark yellow, strong-smelling urine
  • Urinating fewer than four times a day

Factors like your age, overall health, activity levels, and body weight can all affect how much you need to drink. If you experience the above symptoms, you need to increase your fluid consumption. For mild cases of dehydration, drinking enough fluids and replacing electrolytes with sports drinks or oral rehydration solutions may be all that’s required. 

When you’ve lost a lot of fluid through having a high fever, staying out in the sun for too long, exercising vigorously, drinking too much alcohol, or suffering from vomiting or diarrhea, a quicker way of replacing what’s lost may be best. 

Drip Hydration, Atrium Health, and Ballantyne offer mobile IV therapy to help you recover from dehydration and receive the fluids and electrolytes your body needs. They provide different types of vitamin IV treatments in many areas of the U.S., including monoclonal treatment in Charlotte that can help combat a COVID-19 infection.

2. Your urine color is one of the best indicators of your hydration level

Taking a look at the color of your urine when you go to the bathroom can quickly indicate if you are dehydrated. 

  • If your urine color is a burnt orange color, you are definitely dehydrated, and you need to drink plenty of fluids and replace electrolytes. 
  • If your urine is amber, you could be mildly dehydrated and may have to increase your fluid intake. You aren’t dangerously dehydrated yet, but you could be heading in that direction. 
  • If your urine is the color of a light beer, you are doing okay, but you could do with a glass of water.
  • If your urine is a pale, straw color, you are optimally hydrated, and you can continue doing what you are already doing. 
  • If your urine is transparent, you are probably drinking more than the recommended amount of fluids and can cut back a little.

For the average adult, urinating 4 to 10 times in a 24-hour period is considered normal. If you urinate less than this, you may be dehydrated. You need to drink more fluids and see whether your urine becomes lighter in color. If it does so, there’s a good chance your dark urine color was due to dehydration. 

If your urine is very dark in color, you should see a medical practitioner as there could be other reasons besides dehydration for this. If you don’t have any of the other signs of dehydration, such as headaches, fatigue, or dizziness and your urine is dark, it’s important to determine the exact cause. Your dark urine could be due to various medical conditions such as a liver that’s not functioning properly, gallstones, hepatitis, or jaundice. Overly strenuous exercise can result in muscle injury and an excess of waste products that makes urine cola-colored. 

3. Understand the consequences of severe dehydration

If you ignore signs that you’re dehydrated and don’t address the situation, you could become severely dehydrated. Severe dehydration is a medical emergency that needs immediate treatment, and you will normally have to get a fluid IV drip until you are fully rehydrated. 

If dehydration isn’t treated, it can cause low blood volume and less oxygen to reach the tissues. You may experience seizures as your electrolytes are not balanced. Your eyes may look sunken, your urine color will be a dark yellow, and your breathing and heartbeat will be more rapid. You may even become delirious and lose consciousness

Without enough water, the body cannot function properly, and you will eventually start experiencing organ failure. If you’re aware of the serious consequences of dehydration and how to recognize it, you can take more precautions to avoid it.