As Arkansas temperatures consistently climb into the 90s, your risk for dehydration climbs as well. Though dehydration can be avoided by drinking plenty of water, your body’s fluid levels can quickly drop in extreme heat if you don’t have access to water. Learn more about the signs of dehydration below, and find out what actions you should take if you notice any of them in yourself or in others.
Symptoms of Thirst
Thirst is the first indication of dehydration. Even mild thirst can quickly escalate to more serious signs of dehydration and should be taken seriously.
Headaches or Muscle Cramps
If you experience unexplainable headaches or muscle cramps, you could be mildly or moderately dehydrated.
Dry Skin that Tents
Evaluating the elasticity of your skin is one of the easiest ways to check for dehydration. Simply pinch the top of your hand, and if the skin immediately goes back into place, you’re hydrated. If it slowly moves back into place, you’re mildly or moderately dehydrated. If the skin remains tented, you’re severely dehydrated.
Not Urinating or Dark Urine
Your urine color and frequency are both reliable indicators of your hydration levels. If you’re well-hydrated, your urine will be pale yellow. If your urine is darker in color, you’re mildly to moderately dehydrated. If you aren’t urinating at all, you’re severely dehydrated.
A Rapid Heartbeat and Heavy Breathing
A racing heart rate and heavy breathing for an extended period after a workout or when you haven’t been exercising at all are both signs that your body is struggling to function due to severe dehydration.
Confusion, Fatigue, Dizziness or Irritability
When your brain is deprived of the fluids it needs to operate, your brain function begins to slow down, causing you to feel extreme fatigue, lightheadedness or as if you’re going to faint.
Fever and Chills
When your fluid levels are depleted, your body is unable to maintain a regular temperature, which can cause fever and chills. Both are signs of severe dehydration.
Fainting and Unconsciousness
If severe dehydration goes unaddressed, you will eventually faint. This is an emergency situation, and 911 should be called immediately.
Symptoms of Dehydration in Young Children
Babies and young children may have trouble articulating distress if they’re dehydrated. In addition to the signs above, you may notice the symptoms below if your child is dehydrated.
Crying without Tears
When dehydrated, your child may try to express their discomfort by crying, but due to their lack of fluids, they will not produce tears.
A Dry Diaper
As with adults, not urinating is a sign of dehydration in children. If your child has a dry diaper for three or more hours, they may be dehydrated.
Sunken Eyes, Cheeks or Soft Spot
A lack of body fluids can cause a child’s eyes, cheeks or soft spot to lose shape, giving the face a sunken appearance.
How to Treat Dehydration
For mild to moderate dehydration, the affected person should remove themselves from the heat and begin sipping, not chugging, water. Small, frequent sips allow your body to better absorb the fluids it desperately needs. You may also choose a hydrating fluid that will replenish your electrolytes, such as coconut water. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends electrolyte solutions for children, such as Pedialyte.
For severe dehydration, the affected person should be removed from the heat, given water and transported to the emergency room immediately. If there is any question about the severity of dehydration, always err on the side of caution and drive to the hospital or call 911. Severe dehydration is a deadly condition, and not a minute can be wasted when seeking treatment.
At Baptist Health, we’re committed to helping you have your healthiest, happiest summer yet. Learn more about how you can stay safe this season – and all year long – by exploring the BHealthy blog.