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10 Signs and Symptoms of Dehydration and the Best Treatment Options

With what has happened over the last few years regarding the pandemic, many people have started to prioritize personal health and wellness. From changing their diet to implementing more exercise, more are seeing many benefits besides just avoiding illness.

However, in the midst of these positive changes, some may experience what can be described as hitting a wall. They feel weaker during their workouts, have more difficulty keeping up with their diet, or have difficulty falling asleep and getting adequate rest.

This can be discouraging. Many people will throw up their hands, blaming bad genetics, while others will blame a lack of personal discipline and willpower. The tragedy is that for a large number of people, this bump in the road of their wellness may not be any of those things. For many, it doesn’t have to do with willpower or discipline.

The real culprit may be dehydration. Dehydration is when your body is unable to replenish the electrolytes and fluids your body loses throughout the day. According to the National Library of Medicine, approximately 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated. The word “chronically” is important to note as it indicates this is not an occasional state of dehydration; it is an ongoing, continual deficit many of us fall into.

For many people who are in a season of making changes or are in transition, their response to these stressors could be driving their bodies into a deeper state of dehydration. The symptoms of dehydration are farther reaching than most realize. Left untreated, severe dehydration could lead to some serious long-term consequences.

The good news is that if you are reading this article, you are in a great position to address this issue immediately. Later, we will discuss some of the most effective ways to treat dehydration.

But first, let’s look at some of the symptoms that may indicate you are in a state of dehydration.

Feeling thirsty

This is one of the most obvious but often overlooked symptoms of dehydration, especially for busy people. When thirst sets in, many feel that they can address it later when they have a free moment. However, thirst indicates that your body is already in a state of dehydration. Medical professionals encourage their patients to have a water bottle on hand throughout the day to address their body’s needs immediately with little effort.

Darker or less frequent urination

If you find yourself visiting the restroom less and less often or if the color is very dark, it could mean that you are experiencing dehydration. If your body is in a hydration deficit, it will attempt to hang on to whatever it can. Besides being a symptom of dehydration, less frequent urination can make it difficult for your body to flush out waste and toxins from the body. This can be especially prevalent in young adults to middle-aged demographics.


Whether from standing up or turning your head from side to side, dizziness may indicate dehydration. Adequate blood flow is important for your brain to function correctly. Your body’s blood pressure goes down when it is dehydrated, reducing the blood flow to your brain. For children, dizziness is often an important indicator of extreme dehydration that may need professional attention.

Mood swings and irritability

Dehydration is a form of stress on your body. In some cases, it could trigger a flight or fight response in our bodies, affecting our mood and emotional wellbeing until a solution is found. In a recent study performed by the Journal of Nutrition, even mild dehydration of just 1% of female subjects of varying ages caused a significant increase in their irritability and ability to focus.


When there is not enough hydration to go around, the body is forced to prioritize survival over all else. The body will redirect all remaining resources to the essential bodily functions to keep you alive. This means that there is little left over to meet the demands of work or exercise. As mentioned earlier, blood pressure drops when we are dehydrated, which makes getting blood to your muscles and extremities becomes difficult. All of this leads to the sense of chronic fatigue many experiences.

Cognitive impairment

Proper blood flow is required for our brains to operate at optimal levels. Dehydration gets in the way of that and can cause that “foggy” sensation you experience. Additionally, a hydration imbalance puts stress on your body that causes the brain to divert much of its focus to try and fix, which can further add to your feeling of exhaustion and reduced willpower to do other tasks.


Different from more conventional forms, a “dehydration headache” is caused by shrinkage of tissues and the brain when insufficient fluid is needed to fill them. When this occurs in the brain, the shrinkage causes it to pull away from the skull and exert massive pressure on the surrounding nerves. This type of headache can be relentless and excruciating. Many headaches will always return after medication like ibuprofen wears off until the underlying dehydration is addressed.

Muscle cramps

Many people are confused when they begin to experience cramps from normal daily movements such as reaching for things on a high shelf or turning over in bed during the night. Chances are this is not a mobility issue as much as it has to do with dehydration. Your muscles do not receive enough blood flow, resulting in cramps and involuntary muscle spasms.

Dehydration contributes to muscle weakness that many experiences during workouts. If you are an endurance athlete or utilize cardio-centric exercise routines, frequent muscle cramps may be due to inadequate hydration.

Rapid heart rate and breathing

Electrolytes play a major role in healthy heart rate and breathing function. It’s normal to see an increase in these things while exercising. However, if you are experiencing this long after you have worked out or at random times throughout the day when you are not exerting yourself, it could be a sign you are severely dehydrated.

If these symptoms persist, it may be advisable to seek the help of a medical professional to address and eliminate the possibility of it being something more severe.

Fever and chills

A lot of people think a fever or chills indicate some form of illness or bug. It turns out that this could be a sign you aren’t properly hydrated. Fluids and electrolytes play a vital role in regulating your body temperature to keep things running properly. Especially in the case of extreme dehydration, your body could manifest hypothermic or fever-like symptoms. In milder cases, if you feel your fingers or toes running colder than the rest of your body, it may be a sign of dehydration.

The good news about dehydration

You might be experiencing some of the symptoms we just listed earlier. Before you feel too discouraged, the good news is that there are several very effective ways to address your dehydration and get you back on the road toward optimal health. Let’s look at five powerful ways to get your hydration levels back to normal.

Drinking more water

Simple yet effective, increasing your water intake is a sure-fire way to get back on track. Many health professionals suggest you carry a water bottle around with you and take small sips throughout the day. Important to note is that studies have shown that small, frequent sips of water are more effective than chugging large amounts of water at one time.

Increasing water an hour or two before exercise or going out into hot temperatures can ensure you avoid a lot of the symptoms we mentioned earlier. This is especially important for teenagers that may be involved in outdoor athletics and tend to lose fluid through sweat more rapidly than other age groups.

Consume more electrolytes

Water is only one part of the hydration equation. Electrolytes are essential minerals like sodium, calcium, and potassium that play key functions in the body, including how your body utilizes the water and fluids you consume. If you are experiencing headaches or fatigue, adding electrolytes may be a great solution for fast relief. While you should be able to do this through a healthy diet and lifestyle, busy people also utilize water-soluble electrolyte tablets or over-the-counter supplements.

Adding more fruits & vegetables

Not only are vegetables healthy, but they also play a major role in keeping your body’s hydration balance. It accomplishes this on two levels. Vegetables and fruit are made largely of water and fluids which your body can use. In addition to this, vegetables such as spinach contain essential electrolytes and minerals such as sodium and magnesium.

Avoid drinks and foods related to dehydration

Believe it or not, your ability for your body to remain hydrated has a lot to do with the foods and liquids you consume. While adding more hydrating fruits and vegetables is a good start, it’s also important to be on the lookout for the following.

While acceptable in moderation, if you are experiencing chronic dehydration, it may be worth eliminating them for a period of time.

  • Salty snacks
  • White or red meats/proteins
  • Parsley and asparagus
  • Fried foods and ready-made meals
  • Alcohol
  • Sweets and sugar
  • High sodium liquids such as soy sauce or liquid aminos

Remove excessive or sweat-inducing clothing

Apart from when we are in the gym and during a workout, many of us are unaware that our skin disperses liquid throughout the day. A great way to reduce excessive fluid loss via sweating is to be intentional about the clothes we wear. Utilizing clothing that helps regulate your body’s ideal temperature can be a game-changer. Opting for more breathable items can also help with this.

IV hydration therapy

Many who feel they are experiencing extreme levels of dehydration are turning to IV hydration therapy as their preferred method to get properly hydrated quickly. Simple and accessible to most people, it is an easy treatment that delivers fluids through a small IV into the arm. It’s not just performed in hospitals either. You can receive one of these at a wellness clinic or IV bar anywhere.

One of the downsides of traditional hydration remedies is that the fluid, nutrients, and oral supplements need to be processed through the body, including the digestive system, before the body can use them. Depending on a host of factors, only a small portion of what you consume may be available for your body to use.

Injected straight into the bloodstream, IV therapy bypasses all of that and provides nutrients and fluids for your body to use immediately. Hydration IV therapy provides a massive infusion of fluids and a combination of vitamins, electrolytes, and amino acids essential for your body to be properly hydrated.

Most patients can experience a significant difference shortly after IV treatment. Some benefits may include relief from headaches and nausea, increased energy and elimination, or chronic fatigue and increased cognitive function, to name a few.

This is an effective method, especially for those experiencing extreme dehydration symptoms. IV therapy can benefit those who may find it physically impossible or uncomfortable to drink adequate amounts of water orally. This is especially prevalent for those over the age of 55, who have been statistically shown to drink less water.

For endurance athletes or those attempting to lose weight through weight lifting, running, and various forms of cardio, hydration therapy can be a powerful way to make sure your body has what it needs to perform at its best.

IV therapy can make sure to fill in any gaps left by diet or drinking habits in those that are extremely busy or may find it difficult to prioritize hydration consistently.

Regardless of your chosen treatment method, it is important to keep these symptoms in mind and address them as quickly as possible. If you are feeling these symptoms, your body is already dehydrated and needs your help to solve them as quickly as possible so you can operate at your best. 

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