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Recognizing Dehydration Symptoms

Dehydration Definition and How it Affects the Body

Whether you’re biking, running and skiing, or at your desk or sweating it out in the gym, maintaining proper hydration is key to optimal health for both body and mind. 

As humans, we are made up of mostly water and electrolytes and maintaining a proper balance of both is crucial for maximizing brain function, preventing fatigue and improving your mood throughout the day. 

Often, by the time we feel thirsty, our bodies are already dehydrated. Understanding the definition of dehydration and its cause and effects is the first step to a balanced wellness routine. 

How does dehydration occur? Our bodies naturally lose water throughout the day and dehydration occurs when more body fluids are lost than are consumed. 

Factors including your activity level, weight, weather conditions and age all have an effect on your level of water loss and intake needs. We lose even more water during longer periods of excursion, when we are sick and experiencing vomiting or diarrhea and in warmer temperatures too. 

What Does Dehydration Feel Like?

Dehydration Signs and Symptoms

What are some of the signs and symptoms that someone is dehydrated?

Initial physical symptoms of dehydration include headache, flushed complexion, low energy, overall fatigue and lack of mental clarity. Irritability can also start to set in once someone is dehydrated. Here are just a few signs of possible dehydration:

  • Feeling Thirsty: One of the most obvious initial signs that you are dehydrated is feeling thirsty. 
  • Urine Color: Your urine should be a clear or light-yellow color, rather than darker yellow or brown.
  • Dry Mouth: Checking the moistness in your mouth is another tip. If your mouth is starting to feel dry, you’re in need of water.  
  • Medications: Certain medications including diuretics also can result in increased urination and dehydration, so check your medicine cabinet for possible culprits. 

Why is dehydration dangerous? Moderate to severe dehydration can also lead to confusion, dizziness and vomiting. 

Medical professionals at the Cleveland Clinic note that severe hydration shrinks the blood vessels in the brain. When there aren’t high enough fluid levels in your brain, your memory and coordination can be affected.

Dehydration can also affect the heart as it has to work harder when there’s less water in your blood. Your kidneys can be affected too. If you’re dehydrated, you may urinate less and less water in your blood causes your kidneys to hold on to the urine.

Severe symptoms of dehydration can lead to kidney stones, kidney failure and heatstroke. Make sure to call 911 or go to the emergency room if you have any of the symptoms of severe hydration including:

  • A temperature of 103 degrees Fahrenheit or higher
  • Nausea
  • Rapid pulse
  • Seizures
  • Lack of sweating
  • Confusion, altered mental state, slurred speech 
  • Dizziness 
  • Fainting, loss of consciousness 
  • Hallucinations

Vulnerable Age Groups

Infants and children are often seen as the most vulnerable to dehydration as they are unable to communicate when thirsty. As a parent, it’s important to monitor the amount of fluid your child consumes and pay attention to the signs. 

Older adults are also more vulnerable to becoming dehydrated due to smaller fluid reserves that don’t allow them to carry as much water in their bodies. Hydration is a crucial component to optimal wellness in the elderly population, especially those who may have memory problems. As a parent, friend or caretaker, it’s important to offer them drinks frequently. 

How Dehydration Can Be Prevented

Here a few simple ways to incorporate water into your every day:

  • Daily Routine: Begin your day with a glass of water. A solid night’s sleep can lead to dehydration and starting your day with a glass is a great way to kick off your day. 
  • Water Rich Diet: Make drinking whatever throughout the day your routine rather than an afterthought. Keep a water bottle in your home, car, office, gym or trailside and keep refilling throughout the day. Also, try setting your daily water intake as a goal, just like making your bed or brushing your teeth. 
  • Consume Hydrating Foods: Prevent dehydration by consuming fruits and vegetables. Hydrating foods with high water content including berries, watermelon, lettuce, grapes, celery, kale and melons. 
  • Always Increase Water When Exercising: Whether you are a high endurance athlete who is exercising at a high intensity for a long period of time - or simply working out at your local gym 2 to 3 times a week, replacing fluids lost through sweat is key to feeling your very best. For every pound lost, at least 16 ounces of water or an oral electrolyte solution should be consumed to rehydrate. 
  • Hydration Options: While water is always the healthiest choice for large consumption every day, drinks like juice, coffee and tea still count towards your hydration goals as well. But remember juices can be packed with sugar and calories and too much caffeine can be dehydrating. At the gym, sports drinks can be a great additional option to replace electrolytes, just check the sugar content to find the healthiest option for you.

How Much Water Should You Drink?

Lately, the old-school rule of drinking 8 glasses of water per day has been re-examined. While the daily recommendation of 8 glasses acts as a good general guideline, it is not enough water to withstand higher activity levels or more dehydrating environments like warm weather. 

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine recommend that women drink 11.4 cups of water daily and that men consume 15.6 cups per day. Sound daunting? Carrying a larger capacity water bottle makes hydration efforts simple and refills easy.

Prepare for your next adventure with hydration tips tailored just for you. CamelBak’s Hydration Calculator offers an easy way to help you determine how much water you should drink. 

Based on factors including, age, height and weight, our hydration calculator asses the ideal amount of water you’ll need for hiking, skiing, running and biking. Simple factors like the duration of your workout, intensity of activity level and weather conditions are all factored in to give you the best personalized assessment possible – helping you adventure longer, while maximizing every experience!

Pro CamelHaks for Every Kind of Adventurer 

Learn how to properly hydrate on a mountain bike ride, stay hydrated at home and seasonal hydration made simple with a few pro tips from CamelBak athletes including Eric Porter with his life hacks for smarter outdoor adventuring. Also, learn easy to implement ideas from athlete, Sage Canaday for staying hydrated during winter sport activities and let Peloton instructor, Hannah Corbin walk you through her helpful home workout hydration tips


Incorporate hydration into your everyday wellness routine with our leak-proof insulated stainless steel Chute® Mag 32 oz Water Bottle that delivers a high flow and features an easy carry handle and a convenient magnetic top that stows securely out of the way when open.

As a leader in hydration, from bottles to backpacks, CamelBak has hydration gear for all of life’s adventures, on and off the trail.  

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