The Dangers of Dehydration – Signs You’re Not Drinking Enough Water

The Dangers of Dehydration – Signs You’re Not Drinking Enough Water

Excessive heat and vague symptoms can cause dehydration to sneak up on you. A lot of people get dehydrated in the summertime because of the heat and humidity or from extra activity and sweating, and they don’t increase their water intake! Dehydration occurs when the loss of body fluids, mostly water, exceeds the amount taken in through drinking. The lost fluid impairs the body’s ability to function normally, causes imbalances in electrolytes and glucose levels, and triggers various symptoms. Severe dehydration can lead to health complications and death.

Infants and children have the highest risk for dehydration, but adults, especially endurance athletes, outdoor workers, and the elderly, also can be impacted.

 Warning Signs of Dehydration

Mild Dehydration

Symptoms of dehydration vary depending on its stage. Below are just some of the more general signs of mild dehydration to moderate dehydration:

  • Always feeling thirsty
  • Dizziness or feeling like you could pass out
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Dry mouth and skin
  • Persistent headache
  • Decreased urination or yellow, concentrated urine

Chronic Dehydration

People experiencing chronic dehydration experience more severe symptoms, such as:

  • Fever over 101 degrees
  • Feeling tired or lethargic
  • Chest or abdominal pain
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Excessive vomiting or diarrhea
  • Seizures
  • Heat stroke

Dehydration in Children & Infants

The above symptoms mostly apply to adults. Infants and young children manifest other symptoms of chronic dehydration, namely:

  • No tears when crying
  • Diaper remains dry even after 3 hours
  • Dry mouth and tongue
  • Sunken eyes
  • Low energy
  • Drowsiness

Avoiding Dehydration

Dehydration is serious and can land you in the hospital. Most people recover quickly by drinking fluids that contain electrolytes and carbohydrates and upping their intake of water, but severe cases can require IV fluids and extra rest.

While it is important to drink water every day, you should also be mindful of conditions that can trigger dehydration. They include:

  • Fever
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Excessing sweating
  • More urine output than usual

Be on the lookout for these dehydration symptoms in yourself and others, especially infants, the elderly, and high school athletes who have started practicing for fall sports! Encourage athletes and outdoor workers to replace fluids and drink on a regular basis. Beat the heat by carrying a reusable water bottle with you or a low-calorie sports drink and replenish fluids throughout the day.

There is some truth to the adage: Let thirst be your guide! The best prevention is to stay well-hydrated and pay attention to how much you are drinking, sweating, and urinating and how you feel. Here are other ways to prevent dehydration:

  • Drink on a schedule. If you keep forgetting to drink water, set alarms during the hours you should drink.
  • Drink water before, during, and after exercising to compensate for the lost fluid due to sweating.
  • If you think you’re hungry, drink a glass of water first. You might be mistaking thirst for hunger.
  • Keep a bottle or canister close by so that you can easily replenish water loss before feeling thirsty.

The Bottom Line

Physical therapy encompasses injury rehabilitation, sports and performance medicine, nutrition, and total-body health and wellness. Nutrition, along with staying hydrated and drinking the right fluids, can affect your recovery and function. Check out our physical therapy rehabilitation services for more information!

Article by: Holly Lookabaugh


Holly Lookabaugh is a practicing physical therapist, partner and Director of Clinical Services at Ivy Rehab Network with more than 40 years of experience in sports management with young athletes, and is board certified as a geriatric clinical specialist and certified exercise expert for aging adults. Deuer is certified as an aquatic and oncology rehabilitation specialist and serves as adjunct faculty at Central Michigan University and Grand Valley State University.


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  2. WebMD, What should I do if I’m dehydrated?, accessed Dec. 6, 2021
  3. Healthline, What does it mean when dehydration becomes long-term and serious?,, accessed Dec. 6, 2021
  4. Theraflu, Staying Hydrated When You’re Sick,, accessed Dec. 6, 2021

The medical information contained herein is provided as an information resource only, and does not substitute professional medical advice or consultation with healthcare professionals. This information is not intended to be patient education, does not create any patient-provider relationship, and should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis, treatment or medical advice. Please consult with your healthcare provider before making any healthcare decisions or for guidance about a specific medical condition. If you think you have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately. IvyRehab Network, Inc. disclaims any and all responsibility, and shall have no liability, for any damages, loss, injury or liability whatsoever suffered as a result of your reliance on the information contained herein.

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