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Dehydration & Rehydration - Symptoms & Recommendations

Updated on March 8, 2011

Are You Dehydrated?

Dehydration may not seem like a pressing issue, but the fact is, the average person spends most of their lives in at least a partial state of dehydration, leading to symptoms that are easily enough avoided simply by giving your body the fluids it needs.

You know that severe dehydration can be fatal, and since you are not at risk for such drastic effects, you think you are not affected. But did you know, many of your everyday physical complaints could be due to dehydration?

Mild dehydration can be the cause of:

  • headaches
  • fatigue
  • dry mouth
  • low blood pressure
  • dizziness
  • constipation
  • dry skin
  • nausea
  • shortness of breath
  • rapid heart rate
  • hot flashes

If you suffer from any of these conditions, the proper rehydration of your body may eliminate or ease the problem. If you do not already, drinking enough water is one of the most important steps you can take to avoid having the above (and other) health issues.

You may have heard that by the time you feel thirsty, you are already dehydrated. This statement is a little bit drastic, but holds some truth. Your body has many built-in safety nets to ensure that you take care of it properly, and one of these is thirst. When you feel thirsty, it is a direct message from your body, telling you that you are running low, and it's time to look for an opportunity to fill ‘er up, so to speak. You may not be in danger of keeling over, but it is easy enough to pass from the beginning stages to a more severe dehydration.

How to (Re-)Hydrate

The average person living in a temperate climate loses more than 10 cups of water a day through urination, sweat, and respiration. The recommendation that every adult drink 8 cups of water a day dates back to a recommendation made by the Food & Nutrition Board in1945, and counts on people eating enough fresh fruits and vegetables with a high water content to make up the difference. A more recent (and accurate) prescription, made in 2005 by the Institute of the Medicine of the National Academy, recommends at least 9 eight-ounce glasses of fluid a day for the average woman, and upwards of 12 for men. Obviously, the more active your lifestyle, the more water you need to consume to stay hydrated.

Drinking water is not the only key to proper hydration. People of an older generation who lived in hotter climates, may remember taking salt pills in the summer time, but may not know exactly why. Salt helps keep the body hydrated and sustain the delicate balance of electrolytes essential to efficient functioning. However, when rehydrating the body, a sudden influx of salt is not beneficial, and sports drinks may not carry the right balance of electrolytes for the individual's needs. In extreme cases of dehydration, hospitalization and intravenous fluids are necessary to restore the delicate balance, but for the average person in a perpetual state of mild dehydration, drinking clear liquids and maintaining a balanced diet high in fresh fruits and vegetables is the safest (and easiest) course of action.

Signs of Success

How do you know when you're properly hydrated? Besides feeling more energetic and generally healthier, an easy gauge can be to keep track of the frequency and color of your urination. If you find yourself with a full bladder every 3-5 hours, and the urine you pass is only lightly or barely colored, you're in the clear! If you find yourself going 5 or more hours between bathroom breaks, or your urine is consistently a definite or dark yellow, you've got some more hydrating to do.

Note: For those concerned about "water poisoning," you have little to fear if you are eating regularly and space out your water intake over the entire day. The kidneys filter excess water within a large margin of safety, and assuming proper nutrition and adequate salt intake, the average person has nothing to fear.


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    • profile image

      Eleanor 2 years ago

      I used to experience frequent dehydrating menopausal hot flashes which were made worse by the fact that I live in a tropical country where the temperature can reach up to 95 degrees from July to September. I do not trust the sports drinks that are sold in the store and so I make my own hydrating drink from one gallon of fresh water mixed with the juice of two limes, an orange and a teaspoon of raw sea salt. It has worked wonders for me. In my country we also get a lot of fresh coconuts and so I drink a lot of coconut water as well. My hot flashes have all but disappeared.

    • profile image

      Lynn 4 years ago

      I am 67 years old and participate in marathons and half marathons. I am a fast walker due to double hip replacements I cannot run. The problem is I suffer from SEVERE Charlie horses toward the latter parts of the race. They a so sever I can barely stay upright. I seem to be able to struggle through them eventually but remain on the verge and have to slow my pace. I sweat a lot, much more than most runners even. I suffer from hot flashes as well. They are mostly at night now but interfere with my sleep. I wake 5 plus times every night sweating.

      I drink water and gadorade during races, take electro lights and take potassium tablets when severe cramping starts. I will also take gu and other aids during the race as well

      I will often vomit at the end of a race as well. Usually at every fuel station ( 1-2 miles) I will drink 2 waters and 2 gadorades, in addition I fill 2 bottles to get me through to the next fuel station. I will take about 8-10 electrolytes during a half marathon as well. I walk at a rate of 12-13 miles per hour. I will sweat so much that you can ring my clothes out. I sweat through all layers during the winter. Everyone complains how cold it is and I'm hot! I sleep with the airconditioner on.

      I really don't know what to do. I'm rather miserable. Never sleep and am considering giving up exercise.

      Any suggestions? Do I need to go to a dr? If so what kind? Sports? In the past I have taken hormones. I gained a lot of weight and was sick all the time but the hotashes stopped. I had a complete hysterectomy at age 54 due to ovarian cyst. (Big mistake).

      I would really appreciate some advice and direction. Thanks so much!

    • Kathleen Cochran profile image

      Kathleen Cochran 5 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Dehydration definitely contributes to heart palipatations. I have a mild heart condition (SVT) and have more episodes in the hot summer months when I'm not drinking enough to keep myself hydrated. It can also bring on false labor as my daughter experienced the summer she was pregnant.

      Great info!

    • profile image

      mimi 6 years ago

      thanks for the info

    • Maddie Ruud profile image

      Maddie Ruud 6 years ago from Oakland, CA

      Hi Kath! Thanks for stopping by! Make sure you are getting enough electrolytes along with that water. Orange juice is high in calcium, but you also need potassium and magnesium, as well as regular old table salt. Try eating some bananas (for potassium) and almonds (for magnesium). You should start to feel better within the first 24 hours.

    • profile image

      Kath 6 years ago

      PS - Where can you buy coconut water? Does it come in bottles or tins?

    • profile image

      Kath 6 years ago

      So glad I found this place! I'm very dehydrated; it's been getting worse & worse over the past 3 days. If I pinch the skin on the top of my hand, the crease doesn't completely disappear unless I smooth it out. :-( I notice I'm feeling 'down' & almost imobilized mentally. Today I've been drinking water & juice every 10 minutes (using a timer to remind myself). I find it hard to eat. I don't want to! Could dehydration cause that, I wonder? If I drink every 10 minutes, I wonder how long it will take to get hydrated?

    • Maddie Ruud profile image

      Maddie Ruud 6 years ago from Oakland, CA

      Great point! Coconut water is full of electrolytes.

    • profile image

      Cocowater 6 years ago

      I used to get severe headaches and even drinking a lot of water didn't exactly help. I drink more than 8 cups a day, but now I alternate with coconut water and the headaches are gone! Coconut water is super with hydration and soooo beneficial.

    • Maddie Ruud profile image

      Maddie Ruud 6 years ago from Oakland, CA

      Nicole, it sounds like you should see a doctor. Please talk to a parent or adult you can trust about your symptoms.

    • profile image

      Nicole 6 years ago

      Hi,I'm Nicole and I'm 11 years old I have had a really bad pain in my temples that doesn't feel like a headache it feels more sensitive and any sharp turns I make I get pain....I figure I'M just dehydrated I have chapped lips been feeling dizzy and been really thirsty I barley drink water..just soda.laying in bed right now and I need to pee again for like the 3rd time in less then a half an hour :/ i also have asma so its hard for me to get really active in gym and today i really over did it :( and what does everyone mean by salt? Like table salt? If not .....wilk table salt work? I am so sick of being dehydrated :/ and how many 16.9 fl oz does it take to get really hydrated:( please helo

    • profile image

      mark 6 years ago

      I do not understand. i always pee yellow. i drink water evey day i don't drink grog very much seriously. it does not change. but when i drink 3/4 of a beer it goes clear. i hate beer that's all i can stand. does anyone know why?

    • Maddie Ruud profile image

      Maddie Ruud 6 years ago from Oakland, CA

      S -

      The salts we are talking about here are not just table salt. We're talking about electrolytes, including potassium and magnesium. The best thing you can do is probably to eat a banana (rich in both potassium and magnesium) along with your water. You can also pick up some Gatorade just for those when an "extreme thirst attack" moments.

      ponface -

      Drinking cold water, especially while exercising, can cause digestive problems. Try not to drink too much at once, and switch to room-temperature water.

    • profile image

      ponface 6 years ago

      I'm doing more & more exercise at the moment & sweating a lot....later on i get cramps......trouble is if i drink a lot of water i get terrible indigestion.....i know it may seem impossible but it definitely happens.....any ideas??

    • profile image

      6 years ago

      i don't drink much liquids in the day. its hard for me to drink more than 2 bottles of water a day. Other days I drink a little more. The only other thing I'll drink is a little bit of juice. Well, earlier I was at the store and felt really thirsty so I got a 20 oz bottle of gatorade and started drinking it right there. I rarely drink this kind of drink. When I got home from the store I put up the groceries and ate a store brand sub sandwich. Then I felt dehydrated. I had made a big cup of mostly water but a third of it was V8 mango peach drink. I started drinking it and then felt extremely thirsty. I drank it all and wondered why I still felt so thirsty. I urinated, then I got another huge glass of all water and I'm drinking it and googled for help getting hydrated and found this page. The water is really cold so my stomach feels full of cold water. I don't want to overdo it and just keep chugging water til I get sick but I feel so thirsty and dehydrated. I don't know what's going on with that.

      I am also a breastfeeding mom so I know I should drink more water but it's hard for me to do that. What can I do when I feel so dehydrated and extremely thirsty?

      Also some of the comments of advice are confusing. How do I add salt into my diet and is that really healthy to do? I thought salt gave people high blood pressure.

      during an "extreme thirst attack" for lack of better term, what do I do?

    • Maddie Ruud profile image

      Maddie Ruud 6 years ago from Oakland, CA

      Elijah: I'm so glad you got the help you needed. Get well!

      Kris: A lower resting heart rate is generally good, if you usually have a high one.

    • profile image

      Kris 6 years ago

      I normally have a higher pulse like 80 or so but since drinking more water found that my pulse is lower than this a good sign?

    • profile image

      Elijah 6 years ago

      I took your advice and went in to ER couldn't stand it anymore.. They said Immediately I was Severely Dehydrated and started an IV.. Also High Blood Glucose and gave me insulin.. They also took Blood and are processing it in a lab there.. I won't know what is going on with my Kidneys until tomorrow probably.. but they did say I could go home as long as I come back if anything changes.. They took a Urine Specimen and said there was Blood in my urine most likely from my Kidneys.. I hope this is not as severe as it sounds at this point. They said my Nicotine and Caffeine Levels were off the charts as well.. and I figured that too because I have been up all night unable to sleep and have been drinking cup after cup of hot coffee and smoking way too many Cogarettes.. They said no more Cigarettes and no more Caffeine.. I am awaiting and dreading those Lab results to see what my Kidneys are doing.. It is scary to me because I already lost a friend because her Kidneys shut down.. she had one good kidney for a while, then her other one shut down.. I am so freaked out.. but I am glad I took your advice and just went into ER.. I don't know if my kidneys are shutting down but that is what they said could be possible.. It is terrifying to think about.. The human body is a fragile piece of Equipment.. I guess I was a little too rough on it so far.. They said that my kidneys were already very overworked with the excess Blood Glucose.. No wonder I have been feeling like "Death". Water is very important.. I just hope that it is not too late to make sure I get plenty of it from now on and keep the blood glucose low enough to stay alive and to get well again..

    • Maddie Ruud profile image

      Maddie Ruud 6 years ago from Oakland, CA


      It sounds like you are experiencing some very serious problems, and should immediately seek qualified medical help.

    • profile image

      Elijah 6 years ago

      I am experiencing some weird things both right now and earlier.. Earlier I felt weird, I hadn't slept all night because I didn't feel well, Kidneys hurting and felt hungry.. I am Type 1 Diabetic so I checked my Blood Glucose and it was very high.. I always have this problem, but I am on medication for it and all it does is bring it down to about 300 or so from "the sky is the limit until I hit Keto-Acidosis and either pass out or die" Hopefully Not.. I usually catch it and take some more insulin, but I don't know how to manage it very well.. Anyway.. I felt weird this morning, Thirsty, Hungry, Tired, and my Kidneys hurt.. but I was tired and fell asleep about 10:00 to about 12:00 about 3 hours.. I woke up feeling even more horrible and decided to drink some water.. Within Seconds of the first Gulp of Water I got lightheaded, My Vision turned all Purple and Spotty, I got Dizzy and nearly Fell down,I also Immediately Felt like I had to pee. I had to grab on to something in order to keep from falling down, and discovered quickly that my Strength was Completely gone and fell down anyway.. and then strangely after a few moments that feeling passed, I drank some more water and it did not happen again, but Now my Kidneys feel weird and my stomach is gurgling and sloshing. I drank about a Quarter Gallon of water.. 32OZ. Now I am getting Cramps in my Feet and hands and I usually get this when I am low on Potassium.. Also I feel like I have a Low blood Glucose but I checked it and it is about 300 again.. What is going on here? this is absolutely insane and I have never had anything like this happen before.. Please help if you can..

    • profile image

      Andrew 6 years ago

      I have been dyhydrated for 1 year

    • profile image

      Fitz 6 years ago

      Why is it that every time I drink 3 or more glasses of water, I can feel pressure on my face? But right after few minutes, the pressure will just vanished on its own..Is there anyone who can explain this-the causes and its remedy?

    • profile image

      Nora E 6 years ago

      I just discovered hub and am so happy that I found it. I have been having a rash on my hands with extreme dryness. I also have noticed my hair is very brittle. My hands are actually peeling and hurt. I do not drink enough water.....actually I drink very little. I am 67 years old. I am going to begin drinking....water, water, water. Please let me know if anyone has experienced these symptoms, and and suggestions would be so appreciative.

    • profile image

      Salt 6 years ago

      Also, what do you do if the water just goes 'straight through' so to speak?

    • profile image

      Salt 6 years ago

      How do you tell if you're getting enough salt? Or too much salt? How do you up your salt intake if you're not getting enough?

    • Maddie Ruud profile image

      Maddie Ruud 6 years ago from Oakland, CA

      shaksy: Getting enough water will definitely start to improve the way you feel almost immediately--usually within the first 2 days. Once you make a habit of always having a big glass of water at your side, you'll never go back!

    • shaksy profile image

      shaksy 6 years ago from ohio

      I can't remember the last time I drank just plain water. It's always soda or sweet tea. I always feel bad, will switching to all water cause one to feel better quickly if that is why they feel bad all the time?

    • profile image

      Patricia C. 6 years ago

      i just recently been in the hospital because I had a bad flu and ended up very dehydrated... I am starting to feel a lot better but Im mumboling a lot now... dorning my attack.. the muscles in my arms, hands, and face were starting to tighting up before the ER gave me fluided... is the momboling normal after being very dehydrated or should I call my DR and have them look into this.

    • profile image

      ADITI AGRAWAL 7 years ago


    • profile image

      missie 7 years ago

      i think that this makes a lot of sense......i don't think ppl nowadays know the importance of drinking water.....:)

    • profile image

      RETTA 7 years ago

      I just heard my kidneys need to be hydrated...but, I was told not to drink so many liquids...I was also told to watch my salt intake and now my salt is toooo low! What am I supposed to do? Does anyone know? I do drink colas and other flavored sodAs...could that be it? HELP ANYONE!!! I AM CONFUSED!

    • profile image

      lou 7 years ago

      Does dehydration have any effect of the results of blood work??? I have noticed the values of certain blood meAsurements varry greatly, such as sodium, glucose and the like.

    • Pure Chiropractic profile image

      Pure Chiropractic 7 years ago from Nanaimo

      Thanks for the great hub. I've linked to it in one of my recent hubs.

    • profile image

      sam 7 years ago

      just drink what u need

    • profile image

      jasper420 7 years ago

      Thanks for this info i know for a fact i don't drink enuoph water i need to better hydrate myself your hub put it into perspective for me how important it is to drink water and stay hydrated thanks

    • Dmitriy bestlife profile image

      Dmitriy bestlife 7 years ago from Moscow

      Hi, everybody!

      Tht best bet is structured water! One may drink tons of tap water (even properlyfiltered) and suffer from dehydration at the same time. If the water is not structured the organism is not able to assimilate it directly. A lot of inner energy should be spent to structure the water first. The key word is water structure.

      Imagine that 15 years ago it was nessery to convince people to use additional water filters in their homes. The proper water structure is the second part of the good drinking water problem!

    • nikki1 profile image

      nikki1 7 years ago

      Great hub :D

    • Maddie Ruud profile image

      Maddie Ruud 8 years ago from Oakland, CA

      curious g:

      Yes, dehydration can cause heart irregularities. When I am dehydrated, I often get tachycardia (spikes in heart rate) for no reason. Make sure you're also getting enough salt.

    • profile image

      curious g 8 years ago

      Does anyone know if heart palpitations (PVC or PAC) can be attributed to mild dehydration? I've been suffering with them for months and for unrelated reasons recently upped my water intake. I noticed if I'm having them and drink a large amount of water (at least 24 oz) they will begin to fade. Upping my intake so much really hasn't made me use the bathroom more either-- so strange! I figure my body just really needs it.

    • profile image

      mbe 8 years ago

      I found this article very informative.

    • profile image

      snickers0403 8 years ago

      I think my problem may be not enough water, but I have not seen anyone say anything about swelling with dehydration. Is this possible? My hands look like sausages.

    • someonewhoknows profile image

      someonewhoknows 8 years ago from south and west of canada,north of ohio

      I don't see how you could be retaining the majority of the water you drink unless your just sweating a huge amunt of water through persperation.

    • profile image

      ArNick 9 years ago

      I have been changing my eating habits. The past weeks I have up'ed my daily water intake. On average, I drink a 1.5 liter bottle, then about 5 or 6 10 oz bottles during the day at work. However, I have not been urinating anymore than before. My drinks before consisted of one or two can sodas, then sweetened tea at home. I know I should keep up drinking the water, but I'm retaining a majority of what I drink. Any ideas on how to deal with this?

    • Ntathu profile image

      Ntathu 9 years ago from SE London

      Informative article - drinking water, adequate rest, wholesome food and exercise and positive thoughts - all help us to feel alive and well. Thx Ntathu

    • Princessa profile image

      Wendy Iturrizaga 10 years ago from France

      Very important information.

    • Marisa Wright profile image

      Kate Swanson 10 years ago from Sydney

      Small note regarding coffee and tea being diuretics - there's some doubt about that now.  There have been a couple of studies where people were asked to drink coffee instead of water, and they were found to be just as hydrated as the control group (who did drink water). 

      I'm one of those funny people who hates the taste (or lack of) of water, so I have to b desperately thirsty to manage to swallow a glassful.  If I couldn't drink tea and other drinks, I'd be in real trouble!  As Maddie said, the important thing is to monitor the colour of your pee - keep it nice and pale.

    • TotalHealth profile image

      TotalHealth 10 years ago from Hermosa Beach, CA

      Soild advice, amazing how something so simple as properly hydrating can have such a positive impact on your overall health.

    • Maddie Ruud profile image

      Maddie Ruud 10 years ago from Oakland, CA


      Absolutely, yellow urine in the mornings is completely normal, as you have not been hydrating or voiding during the night. Just make sure you start drinking water as soon as you wake, and it should lighten up by your next urination.

      Thanks for reading,


    • aprilkerr profile image

      aprilkerr 10 years ago from UK

      I never knew about the color of pee being an indicator. Sometimes for me it's clear and other times it's a little yellow. I do try to drink plently of filtered water along with cups of red bush and green tea. Also, I never drink coffee or sodas and only drink one bottle of wine at the weekends.

      However in the mornings it's always yellow/brown. I think that's normal though?

    • chabrenas profile image

      chabrenas 10 years ago from middle of France

      I've spent a lot of time in hot, dry climates (Botswana was probably the extreme), and my wife is an Occupational Health nurse. One thing we noticed was that most of the problems suffered by people coming from temperate climates, and even from humid warm climates, were caused by dehydration. When sweat evaporates rapidly, people don't realise how much water they're losing.

      One point you haven't made, Maddie, is that many popular drinks are diuretics (coffee, tea, and beer) and sodas often need more water to digest the sugar they contain than there is in the can. The Colorado river boatmen point out to their clients that trying to quench your thirst with Coke only makes it worse. American beers get you both ways - they're diuretics AND they contaijn a lot of sugar.

    • William F. Torpey profile image

      William F Torpey 10 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y.

      Unless I miss my guess, dehydration is one of the most common, unrecognized health problems suffered by the average person. Some people I know have problems drinking one whole glass of water a day! I remember well my grammar school teachers (nuns) advising us to drink 8 full glasses of water a day. This is an excellent, useful, well done hub.

    • MM Del Rosario profile image

      MM Del Rosario 10 years ago from NSW, Australia

      when I was young my mum used to tell me if I have a headache drink plenty of water it will clear my head....

    • jaymz profile image

      jaymz 10 years ago from USA

      I need to drink more water... :-\

    • profile image

      ang3lz 10 years ago

      Nice hub...very informative. Thanks Maddie!

    • Whitney05 profile image

      Whitney 10 years ago from Georgia

      Thanks. Maddie. I appreciate your help. :-)

    • Maddie Ruud profile image

      Maddie Ruud 10 years ago from Oakland, CA


      While electrolyte drinks can be helpful after or during physical activity, they're often just overkill as far as something to sip. As I stated above, in a long-standing case of dehydration, they may not carry the balance of electrolytes your body needs, so sticking to clear liquids and maintaining a balanced diet (with enough sodium and magnesium) is a more efficient way of restoring hydration.

      Many sports drinks have a lot of added sugar, so that's something to watch for as well, especially if you're hoping that drinking extra water can help you shed those extra pounds.

    • profile image

      megan4e 10 years ago

      I'm an RN student, so, I recognize the content that you're discussing. Most people would feel so much better even by increasing their fluid intake by 20-25%!! And for the partiers out there- incase you don't already know this: alternate drinks (after the third) with a glass of water. And if you remember when you're home, drink another 2 glasses and take an Advil or Tylenol.

    • Whitney05 profile image

      Whitney 10 years ago from Georgia

      Would you consider gatorades and such drinks to aid in hydration, or is water your best bet?

    • Maddie Ruud profile image

      Maddie Ruud 10 years ago from Oakland, CA


      Very true! Of course, other factors go into fresh breath, such as nutrition (lack of carbohydrates can send your body into ketoacidosis, which makes itself evident in sour breath--yet another reason not to low-carb diet) and oral health and bacteria, so if one of these is the true source of your halitosis, drinking water may not cure it completely, but it certainly can't hurt.

      Great point, and thanks for reading!


    • Caryl Oliver profile image

      Caryl Oliver 10 years ago from Australia

      Another way to easily tell those that are not drinking enough water - their breath does not smell so nice! My partner and I have worked out that a nice way of saying "your breath smells" is to ask "how much water have you drunk today" - instant understanding and easily fixed!

    • profile image

      Marc David 10 years ago

      Great hub.. and it might seem trivial to consume that much water but it's nothing compared to the amount of water we'd need if we didn't have kidneys. If we could survive without kidneys, we'd need around 2500 gallons of water a day to clean out the blood and flush the fluids from the body's systems!

      Not replacing the small of amount of water recommended in this hub really limits the efficiency of the kidneys keeping our tissues free of accumulated waste.

      The best detoxification diet around? Drink more water.

    • Stacie Naczelnik profile image

      Stacie Naczelnik 10 years ago from Seattle

      I am a proud, card carrying member of the Clear Pee Club (most of the time). Great info here!


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