5 signs of dehydration

How can you tell if you’re not as hydrated as you should be?

Thirst is a clue — but it’s not the only one. Some other signs of dehydration may include:1

  1. Dark yellow urine or not urinating much.
  2. Dry, cool skin.
  3. Dry or sticky mouth.
  4. Headache.
  5. Muscle cramps.

If you’re severely dehydrated, you may also feel dizzy, light-headed or confused or have a rapid heartbeat. You could even lose consciousness. Severe dehydration is a medical emergency — in some cases it may be deadly.

What’s a good early warning system?

Get in the habit of looking at the color of your urine. It may indicate you need more fluid before you feel thirsty. Fluids dilute the yellow pigments in urine. When you don’t get enough fluid, the color becomes more concentrated. Severe dehydration can produce urine that’s amber-colored.

Stay off the dry side, friends

Fortunately, mild dehydration is easily treated by drinking more water. Of course, it’s better to prevent getting dehydrated in the first place.2

Here are a few tips that won’t leave you thirsty:

Fill that water bottle. Don’t rely on beverages with alcohol or caffeine — they may worsen dehydration. 

Take extra care in the heat. Increase your fluid intake in hot weather. Sweating from activity or exercise — especially in the heat — may quickly lead to dehydration. If you’re swimming, you may not notice you’re sweating — but you still need fluids to stay hydrated.

Keep your cool and learn who might need your special attention when temperatures climb.


  1. American College of Emergency Physicians; National Institutes of Health
  2. Hydration needs can vary — based on health conditions you have and medications you're taking. Talk with your doctor about what’s right for you.