How do I know if I'm dehydrated?

Keri Gans
Nutrition & Dietetics
If you're not thirsty, it doesn’t mean your body doesn’t need water and other fluids. Dehydration occurs when your body doesn’t have enough water to carry out normal functions. Even mild dehydration can drain your energy and fog your thinking. If you’re urinating less than usual, or if you rarely feel thirsty, check the color of your urine. If it’s straw colored, you’re properly hydrated. If it’s dark, you’re dehydrated—drink up, whether you’re thirsty or not.
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Mild to moderate dehydration is extremely common. It seems reasonable to suspect that you would feel thirst before becoming dehydrated, or at least soon after becoming dehydrated. However, thirst is not a good indicator of the body's fluid status. Despite the fact that people can survive for weeks without food, and only a few days without any water, our hunger drive is much greater than our thirst drive. If you wait to feel thirsty, chances are that you are already dehydrated. So drink up and be sure to stay well hydrated.
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The early signs of dehydration are subtle and may be easy to miss. They include dark yellow urine, dry mouth, headaches, weakness, irritability, and cramping. When dehydration progresses, you may not urinate or tear or may experience fainting, rapid heart rate, low blood pressure, and changes in clarity of thought.
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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.