Dehydration: causes, signs and symptoms

TL;DR Dehydration can happen more commonly than we think. Causes may vary, including not drinking enough water to suffering from certain illnesses. Sometimes, we don’t even know we’re dehydrated; the symptoms are too low-key that we don’t even notice it! This article talks about the tell-tale signs and symptoms ranging from the obvious to the not so... and how to address dehydration.


Dehydration is probably one of the most overlooked conditions that doesn’t get a lot of medical attention.  After all, it’s normal to get thirsty, right?

But it’s more than just getting thirsty.

In fact, thirst isn’t always the best way to tell whether you’re dehydrated or not. Some people suffering from it don’t realize they are, until moderate to severe symptoms manifest. Hence, it’s important to keep yourself hydrated at all times, but more so during hot weather or when you’re sick.

According to WebMD: [1]

Dehydration happens when your body doesn't have as much water as it needs. Without enough, your body can't function properly. You can have mild, moderate, or severe dehydration depending on how much fluid is missing from your body.

Symptoms for dehydration range from mild discomfort to severe conditions such as “blood clots, seizures, and other potentially fatal complications. [2]

Causes of dehydration

There are various reasons why we end up not having enough water in our body.

It’s totally normal to lose some of our body’s water from certain bodily functions like sweating, crying, spitting, peeing, pooing, and even breathing! The liquid lost from these activities can be easily replaced by drinking and eating foods rich in water.

However, when water leaves the body faster than entering it – if you don’t eat and drink enough – then dehydration is more likely to take place.



Dehydration happens because sometimes, you may be too busy that you don’t even notice your thirst, or too sick that you can't even reach out for that jug of water on your bedside table.

Other times, dehydration just happens when you’re suffering from the following: [1]

  • Fever. The higher and worse the fever, the more likely you are to get dehydrated.
  • Diarrhea, especially one that is severe, causes significant loss of water and electrolytes in a brief period.
  • Vomiting, especially if it accompanies diarrhea. This leads to loss in fluids and minerals
  • Too much sweating. If you go through strenuous activities or travel in an extremely hot and humid place without a bottle of water, then you’re in for some trouble.
  • Frequent peeing from taking diuretics, or medications that make you pee more. Some chronic illnesses like kidney problems or undiagnosed diabetes may cause too much peeing as well.

Signs and Symptoms

Thirst is a tell-tale sign of dehydration. But it’s NOT the only way to tell.

One of the first few symptoms of mild dehydration, and perhaps the best indicator of how badly the body needs water, is urine color.

Clear urine means you’re in the clear. On the flip side, dark colored urine or a decrease in urine production means you may be dehydrated. You should start reaching out for that jug of water before it’s too late!



If any of the following signs and symptoms have already manifested, chances are you may be suffering from moderate dehydration: [3, 4, 5, 6]

  • Dry mouth and bad breath
  • Muscle cramps/weakness in muscles
  • Headache
  • Lethargy
  • Food cravings
  • Dizziness

Even worse than these symptoms point towards severe dehydration: [3]

  • Lack of sweating
  • Sunken eyes
  • Shriveled and dry skin
  • Low blood pressure
  • Increased heart rate
  • Fever and chills
  • Delirium
  • Unconsciousness

The signs and symptoms may also depend on age.

According to WebMD and Medical News Today, for babies and young children, dehydration may be seen in the form of the following: [1, 3]

  • Dry mouth and tongue
  • No tears when crying
  • No wet diapers for three hours
  • Sunken eyes, cheeks
  • Sunken soft spot on top of skull
  • Listlessness or irritability
  • Sunken fontanel or soft spot on the top of the head among babies
  • Irritability

Symptoms of dehydration among adults or older people include:

  • Extreme thirst
  • Less frequent urination
  • Dark-colored urine
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion

Who’s at risk?


While dehydration can happen to anyone, some people are more prone to it than others:

  • Babies and young children are the most vulnerable to dehydration. They can easily contract severe diarrhea and experience vomiting compared to other age groups. Poor bubs are also likely to lose the most amount of water from getting chills and high fever as they can't really get their own drinks nor tell you that they're thirsty.
  • Seniors and aging people. As you get older, your body's fluid reserve goes down. Older people also have a hard time determining whether they're thirsty and some are not as mobile as to get water with ease.
  • Sick people. You're less likely to reach out for a glass of water if you have a sore throat or just feeling lethargic in general, right? People with chronic diabetes and kidney diseases are also more vulnerable than others because of more frequent peeing from medications.
  • People who travel or exercise outdoors. Especially when the weather is hot and humid, or there's not a lot of access to clean water, the risk of dehydration goes up. To address this, bring your own jug of water wherever you go!

    Stay hydrated!

    It isn't just water and fluids that keep you hydrated. Your body also needs the appropriate electrolyte balance to maintain proper hydration levels. Electrolyte salts play a critical role in hydration health.

    If you're dehydrated, exposed to heat stress, or are preparing for an activity that can lead to dehydration, then in addition to loading up on water, look into supplementing with the salts your body needs.

    VALI Electrolyte Salts - Hydration Support contains a critical blend of electrolytes that are lost through sweat including Himalayan Pink Salt - which contains 84 trace minerals and elements found in the human body to aid healing. Taking salts while maintaining proper water intake will ensure you stay hydrated and don't run into any issues related to dehydration.

    If you're curious what happens when you don't hydrate as often, then this video tells you exactly what: