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Dehydration Symptoms and Prevention

When it is hot and humid outside, the risk of dehydration increases.  When the air is humid, sweat cannot evaporate and cool the body as quickly as it usually does.  This can lead to an increase in body temperature and the need for more fluids.  Dehydration occurs when the body loses more fluid than it is provided.  Mild to moderate dehydration can be reversed by drinking more fluids.  Severe dehydration needs immediate medical attention.

Dehydration in Pregnancy

Proper hydration when pregnant is of great importance for a healthy pregnancy.  Pregnant females need to take in more fluid to remain hydrated, and conditions like morning sickness can exacerbate dehydration.  Excessive dehydration can result in heart palpitations, dizziness, reduced amniotic fluid levels and an increased risk of having Braxton-Hicks contractions. 

Dehydration Symptoms

Symptoms of mild to moderate dehydration include: thirst, tiredness, dizziness, lightheadedness, headache, sleepiness, and decreased urine output.  Urine color is amber, more like apple juice, instead of clear to light lemonade. Pregnant individuals, as well as infants, children, endurance athletes, older adults, and people with chronic illnesses have a higher risk of dehydration, especially on hot days.

Preventing Dehydration

The best plan is to prevent dehydration. Drinking fluids and eating foods high in water, such as fruits and vegetables is essential.  Did you know one cup of watermelon is about ¾ cup water.  Producing frequent, clear, urine is a good indication you are hydrated.

Before exercising, mowing the lawn, or taking part in other outdoor activities, be sure to drink water and continue to drink water at regular intervals.  Running and other strenuous activities increase the body’s need for fluids. Sport drinks are a good option for high intensity activity, lasting longer than 60 minutes.  Sports drinks contain carbohydrates and electrolytes (sodium and potassium).  Sodium retains fluid which helps to maintain hydration during.

Tips to Stay Hydrated

Both pregnant and non-pregnant individuals need to develop a healthy hydration routine.

  • Keep consistent with drinking water, especially on hot days!
  • Drink water before, during, and after exercise.
  • Flavor water with lemon, lime, or cucumber slices.
  • An insulated water bottle can keep beverages cold for long periods of time.  Carry one with you as a reminder to stay on top of hydration.
  • Check your urine color to assess hydration status.

For more info, reach out to your Primary Care provider, Women's Health provider, or a CHI Health Dietitians.

Original post date: June, 2012. Revised: June, 2022.

Ellen Thomsen, MS, RD, LMNT, CDE, IFNCP™
Ellen Thomsen, MS, RD, LMNT, CDE, IFNCP™

Ellen Thomsen, MS, RD, LMNT, CDE is a Registered Dietitian, Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist and Integrative and Functional Nutrition Certified Practitioner. She is the diabetes education program coordinator at CHI Health and sees patients at the Millard Clinic. She works with patients to identify root causes to health conditions and make changes to improve overall health. Ellen’s passion is to help others develop lifestyle habits that allow them to feel their best.

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