When you're dehydrated, your body doesn't have enough fluid to work properly. An average person on an average day needs about 3 quarts of water. But if you're out in the hot sun, you'll need a lot more than that. Most healthy bodies are very good at regulating water. Elderly people, young children and some special cases - like people taking certain medications - need to be a little more careful.
Signs of dehydration in adults include
- Being thirsty
- Urinating less often than usual
- Dark-colored urine
- Dry skin
- Feeling tired
- Dizziness and fainting
Signs of dehydration in babies and young children include a dry mouth and tongue, crying without tears, no wet diapers for 3 hours or more, a high fever and being unusually sleepy or drowsy.
If you think you're dehydrated, drink small amounts of water over a period of time. Taking too much all at once can overload your stomach and make you throw up. For people exercising in the heat and losing a lot of minerals in sweat, sports drinks can be helpful. Avoid any drinks that have caffeine.
Prevention and Risk Factors
- Don't Dry Out: Make Sure You Drink Enough Water (National Institutes of Health)
- Selecting and Effectively Using Sports Drinks, Carbohydrate Gels and Energy Bars (American College of Sports Medicine) - PDF
Treatments and Therapies
- First Aid: Dehydration (Nemours Foundation)
Health Check Tools
- Excessive Thirst (DSHI Systems)
- ClinicalTrials.gov: Dehydration (National Institutes of Health)
Journal Articles References and abstracts from MEDLINE/PubMed (National Library of Medicine)
- Drinks to Prevent Dehydration in a Vomiting Child (American Academy of Pediatrics) Also in Spanish
- Parents' and Coaches' Guide to Dehydration and Other Heat Illnesses in Children (National Athletic Trainers' Association) - PDF Also in Spanish
- Sports Dehydration Safety Tips (Safe Kids Worldwide) - PDF
- Straight Poop on Kids and Diarrhea (Food and Drug Administration)
- What's the Big Sweat about Dehydration? (For Kids) (Nemours Foundation) Also in Spanish