How to Identify Signs of Dehydration Before It Becomes a Problem

How to Identify Signs of Dehydration Before It Becomes a Problem

Dehydration can creep up on someone without them even realizing that it is happening.  There are times when many of the signs can initially be subtle or easily attributed to something else.  Knowing what to look for as well as how to prevent the onset of dehydration can help to make your time outdoors as safe and enjoyable as possible.  Let's take a closer look at some of the signs as well as steps that you can take to stay hydrated throughout the day.


Dehydration Happens Before Signs Show Up

In most cases, the body won't present signs of dehydration until someone is already low on fluids.  This is an ironic biological quirk that makes dehydration so potentially-dangerous.  Consequently, it's important to drink a steady amount of fluids throughout the day in order to prevent the process of dehydration from occurring in the first place.  Under normal circumstances, guidelines suggest that adults should drink a minimum of 2 liters of water a day when in the outdoors. 

However, there is a good chance that you will need more fluids depending on a number of factors such as temperature, perspiration, the amount of exertion you're under and altitude.  Try to allow for extra fluids until you get a sense of what you will need. 


Common Signs

Thirst, fatigue, confusion, low-grade fever, pink cheeks, drifting in and out of reality, body aches and a fast heart rate are the most common signs of dehydration.  Keep in mind that these symptoms generally start from mild and progress to severe as the body loses more fluids.  Unfortunately, confusion can set in early-on and trick us into thinking that everything is okay. 

Another common sign are headaches, and they are often the first to show up, in addition to persistent thirst.  Try to get into the shade, cool down, rest and slowly drink fluids until you start to feel better.  One thing you want to avoid is drinking a lot of water at a time because the body can only process so much, and the rest will go to waste.  In severe cases, drinking too much too soon can lead to a host of serious health problems. 

Try and drink a glass or two an hour for a few hours, even if you start to urinate and the urine is clear.  Remember that urinating clear liquid is not a sign that the body has re-hydrated, rather that excess water is being removed. 


Urine Color

The color of urine is also a good indicator of varying degrees of dehydration.  Urine that is darker than normal, comes out in a weak stream or a lack of urine altogether are things to be on the lookout for.  Dark brown urine is a sign of severe dehydration whereas dark yellow may indicate the body is still in the early stages.

Remember that you lose fluids from any type of physical exertion, even if it is cold outside.  You can also be losing fluids if you're not sweating a lot as well.  Make sure that you are bringing and drinking enough fluids, and pay close attention to signs that may indicate that you need more water in order to avoid succumbing to this life-threatening condition.