How to spot Dehydration

February 9, 2018| Health and Wellbeing /

What is dehydration?


We’ve all seen dehydrated fruit, right? The perfect snack! Apricots are typically around 81% water, falling just short of the human body which is about 75% water. When that balance is thrown off, it may be known as dehydration – which is totally fine for fruit, but not okay for our bodies!

Dehydration happens when you don’t have enough fluids in our system. Generally, our bodies will give us some pretty good warning signs that we need more liquid.

One of the first usually being a feeling of thirst and producing less frequent, darker urine. It can also lead to other things like lethargy, constipation and headaches.
— Matt Ryan, Director of Emergency Medicine, Epworth HealthCare

To avoid dehydration, it’s important to have enough water and high water content foods like fruits and vegetables, not just liquid. Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol is another reason you may become dehydrated and drinking more alcohol won’t do anything to help.

Other early symptoms

  • Dry mouth
  • Lethargy
  • Muscle weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches

Severe dehydration may also include symptoms such as:

  • Sunken eyes

  • Dry skin

  • Lack of sweating

  • Heavy breathing

  • Fever

  • Being irritable, drowsy or confused

  • Increased heart rate

  • Unconsciousness 

It is important to look out for signs of dehydration in young children as they can’t always communicate or understand the need to drink more. Those symptoms can include:

  • No wet nappy for 3 hours or more

  • Irritable

  • No tears when crying

  • Sunken cheeks, eyes or fontanel (soft spot on babies’ head)

  • Dry tongue and mouth

Tips to avoid dehydration:

The good news? Dehydration can be avoided by ensuring that you take in enough water to replace any that is lost. While your body should let you know that you’re getting low by making you thirsty, it’s important to try and drink regularly to avoid getting to that point. Remember, some things can cause us lose liquid faster than normal, so make sure you’re hydrating more when you:

  • exercise,

  • are in hot weather,

  • drinking alcohol,

  • sweating,

  • have diarrhoea or vomiting,

  • you find yourself going to the bathroom more often than usual, as water is lost each time you urinate.

People with chronic illnesses such as kidney disease, heart disease, diabetes and alcoholism are at a higher risk of becoming dehydrated and should be extra vigilant in maintaining hydration.
— Matt Ryan, Director of Emergency Medicine, Epworth HealthCare

When to seek medical assistance?

Mild dehydration can usually be fixed with more fluids. There are also premade solutions you can buy from a pharmacy especially for dehydration. Things like caffeine and alcohol will only dehydrate you more.
— Matt Ryan, Director of Emergency Medicine, Epworth HealthCare

If you, your child or a relative are showing any severe signs of dehydration it is important to seek medical assistance. Epworth HealthCare provides emergency department services in Geelong (8am – 10pm, seven days) and Richmond (24/7).



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