May 232017
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The hot weather has arrived and with that comes all kinds of worries: sunburn and dehydration top my list. Despite being of mostly Italian descent, I am a pale gal and I burn to a crisp. But that is a story for another day. We all hear every summer that we need to stay hydrated (and being a nurse, I am constantly pushing fluids on people and educating them on the importance of it), but do you know what dehydration looks and feels like? I consider myself somewhat of an expert on dehydration and rehydration (the rehydration part is generally not fun for you if you’re seeing me for it at work).

That was until my son, who was 9 or 10 at the time, came out to me one night at about 9 PM crying and telling me that he had the worst headache he had ever had in his life. He’s not a kid who complains, so I knew it must be serious. And being a nurse, I just wanted to make it go away so I gave him Tylenol. That didn’t touch it. I had no idea what else to do; he was literally grabbing his head and crying. I paged his pediatrician who, knowing my son’s lengthy medical history, sent us on our way to the ER. The ER is a nightmare, as you all know.

After several hours, labs, and much crying the diagnosis was……dehydration. WHAT??? Surely, they were kidding. I’m a nurse. I know all about dehydration and how to prevent it. Except that he had been at his summer program all day and it was hot. There was no AC and despite my constant lectures on drinking enough, he just hadn’t. I had never seen it present this way and it a real eye opener for me. So the next summer when we were on vacation and spent the day at Hershey Park and he started to complain of headache and became irritable, I knew what we were up against. Now when he gets aggravated with me constantly reminding him to drink, I remind him of that awful headache.

Do you know what other symptoms to look for? It typically presents differently in babies and young children: you may notice no tears when they cry, no wet diaper for several hours, and irritability. I older children and adults you may see extreme thirst, dark concentrated urine (the clearer the urine, the better), fatigue, dizziness, and confusion as well as the aforementioned headache. This list is by no means conclusive and individuals may present with different symptoms. When in doubt, hydrate. It certainly can’t hurt.

Ultimately, we want to prevent dehydration, but it happens and the obvious solution is to rehydrate. This is not always as simple as “just drink more”, especially with young kids. Ideally, we would want you to rehydrate with water or Gatorade, which will replenish some of your lost electrolytes. G2 by Gatorade has much less sugar if that is a concern. A lot of kids won’t drink water, so you can always try the Crystal Light-type packets or infuse it with fruit. Juice is good too if they won’t drink water. What some people may not know is that anything liquid at room temperature is considered a liquid, so that means that jello, ice cream, and popsicles are all liquids if you are having a tough time getting fluids into a kid or even an elderly person. I worked for many years in nursing homes and they didn’t always like to drink, but they always loved their ice cream. Anything with caffeine is not a great idea to use to hydrate, as caffeine is a diuretic and will make you go to the bathroom more often.

If you’re coming in to the office to see me, you likely need an IV….and that’s no fun. People who are dehydrated are harder to get IV access on and often require more than 1 “stick”, as we call them. So honestly, do everything in your power to avoid coming to see me or going to the ER. Try to avoid sunburns by using your sunblock. Sun poisoning almost always requires IV hydration….have you ever seen how big those IV bags are? That’s going to put a real damper on your plans for the day.

Get out there and enjoy the beautiful summer weather…..just make sure you’re drinking!! What are your ideas to stay hydrated?

About Rachel

My name is Rachel and I'm the single mom of a 14 year old boy. I am a Registered Nurse nurse caring for our nation's veterans. I'm a amateur photographer and a self-proclaimed "adventurer"; I am always looking for for free and inexpensive ways to enjoy life.

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  111 Responses to “Dehydration: Know the Signs”

  1. Thanks so much for sharing this. When summer rolls around, it’s even more important to be sure you’re hydrated. This is excellent information.

  2. Thanks for sharing this information. I am terrible about drinking enough water, and I’m pretty sure I stay in a constant state of slight dehydration. I know it’s so bad for me!

  3. Where I live this definitely something we need to know. I am always drinking everything I need to, this is a great reminder that I need to start doing that again.

  4. Ice cream it is. You made me get up from my chair and get some drinks ready 🙂 Thanks for this important tips!

  5. No one ever wants to get that feeling of hydration – it’s awful. I remember hearing that if you feel thirsty, you’re already on the verge. Thanks for the easy tips!

  6. When we first moved to rural TN, I had NO idea that I was experiencing dehydration. My body wasn’t really used to the humidity and the heat because I’m from California where it stays at an even temperature all year long! It’s so important to pay attention to the signs to prevent anything from happening!

  7. When we first moved to rural TN, I had NO idea that I was experiencing dehydration. My body wasn’t really used to the humidity and the heat because I’m from California where it stays at an even temperature all year long! It’s so important to pay attention to the signs to prevent anything from happening!

  8. My son forgets to drink water. When he starts getting tired, I tell him to drink more water.

  9. This is a great post, and something so many more people should be aware of, not just in the summer. We are big on water at home, and I make it a point to stay on top of my youngest’s water intake. Easily done, as we homeschool.

  10. I have to admit I am awful for drinking enough water to stay hydrated, this is a great post to know the signs as it can be awful when things go to far.

  11. I have a bad habit of not getting enough fluids when it is warm. My fingertips will get pruned looking and I know it is time to get some water in me.

  12. Living in the Southeastern US, dehydration is definitely a problem. We are avid outdoor adventurists and I am constantly chasing my daughter around telling her to drink more or have an ice pop. This is very helpful info, especially for parents.

  13. I definitely don’t get enough water – I am so bad at my H20 intake. It’s good to know the signs of dehydration. Super vital for one’s health.

  14. Thanks for sharing this info. Summers are on the way so we should drink lots of water. Drinking enough water to stay hydrated is very important.

  15. Poor thing :/ I get terrible migraines when I am dehydrated too and although I need to drink more I am drinking more than I used to. It does help x

  16. It’s so easy to get the hydrated living here in the south. We always try to keep our kids hydrated and make sure you bring pictures of ice water outside when they’re playing.

  17. Our little boy was recently sick with a stomach bug and I had to learn real fast about dehydration. Its so scary!

  18. Dehydration is a big problem around here because it easily hits triple digits in the summer. It’s so important to know what to be on the lookout for.

  19. It is so important to know what to look for and this is a great article. I’m going to share it now with my friends with kids so they can be across too!

  20. I’m so bad at keeping myself hydrated. I tend to only drink when I’m super thirsty.
    And recently, I’ve been using mobile apps to set goals and that definitely helped a lot.

  21. I spend a lot of time outside and I know I don’t always drink as much as I should. I was aware of some of the symptoms but had no idea dehydration could cause a headache.

    • I recently heard that when you have a headache in the summer, you should try drinking water before you try taking medicine. I guess it is because it is such a big symptom of dehydration.

  22. It’s so easy to become dehydrated and can really harm your body. It’s a good thing you took your son to the ER to be safe. I make sure my kids always have a drink when playing outside to avoid dehydration.

  23. I am always dehydrated, and so is my husband. After reading this I will definitely push the family to drink more. Thank you!

  24. I am TERRIBLE at this! I’ve been known to go for a 5 mile run and not drink anything afterward. My brain just doesn’t seem to signal to the rest of my body that I am thirsty.

  25. Ultimately water is the best way to stay hydrated. But these are good tips for picky kids to keep them hydrated.

  26. That’s why we should always have a bottled water ready. Better safe than sorry.

  27. It is so important to stay hydrated, especially in the summer. It can be so easy to get busy and forget to drink water.

  28. I’m guilty of not drinking enough. I have to force myself to drinke especially plain water, but I have been getting about it as I know it’s sooo important.

  29. Summer is really making me all chapped and dehydration is something I need to watch out for. I go for popsicles too when I don’t feel like drinking water but the extra sugar bothers me. I had no idea dehydration can give you headaches. Thanks for this post need to grab a drink now.

  30. I am getting way better about being hydrated but it’s hard for me, because well, I don’t like water – LOL!

  31. I will keep this in mind. I know I’ve been dehydrated before and it’s not fun at all. I always try to carry water with me at all times during the summer.

  32. This is an important discussion to have. We keep water on hand like at all times here during all year round. I was told by my Dad that we actually get more dehydrated in the winter – with the cold air and our breathing it in and out, our bodies actually lose a lot of hydration and most people don’t realize that. That’s not to say we don’t lose it in Summer too, because we most certainly do a lot as well. Love that you are sharing the signs of dehydration because I didn’t realize how much it can mess with you up until a couple of years ago!

  33. Getting dehydrated is awful! I get horrible headaches, and so does my daughter, any time I get dehydrated at all. I try to drink a ton of water.

  34. Dehydration is the worst. We just got back from a trip to DC and it was so hot there. We took 2 packs of water and came back with none. I was so thankful for the water.

  35. I know that when you get dehydrated your body feels absolutely terrible. Where I live it is extremely important that we drink a lot of water. It is a very dry hot climate that I live in and sometimes you don’t think about it as much as you should.

  36. These are all great tips to detect and prevent dehydration. I ended up in the ER once on a hot summer day because I didn’t drink enough water and forgot the time. One IV later I was all OK haha.

  37. These are very helpful! It’s so important to know the signs especially during this hot summer!

  38. I’ve had this happen to me several times. And yet, I am STILL horrible about drinking water! I know better, but… Headaches are one of the signs for me as well. And then when I’m drinking it and it tastes like the best thing ever? Yes, you know you were dehydrated. lol. Glad he was ok though!

  39. I get dehydrated very easily, so I am very aware of the signs. I try to keep water or tea on hand at all times.

  40. I live in Florida and I know I have to be really careful not to get dehydrated. Especially when we spend a day at the beach or on the boat, it is much easier than people think to get dehydrated.

  41. This is a great time to post about the warning signs of dehydration, you are doing us a great service by reminding us of this serious health issue. Thanks for sharing this!

  42. Thank you for an informative article on an important topic. Your son suffering from dehydration due to Summer Camp can be an all-too-common situation for mothers out there with the upcoming season.
    And knowing some new examples of how to re-hydrate are good!

  43. It is very easy to get dehydrated. Especially with the summer time coming, it is important to stay dehydrated.

  44. Dehydration is a scary thing. It has happened to me before and I almost died, it is important to know the signs.

  45. My son and I get headaches and when he complains of headaches or starts to get irritable on hot days the first action is to get him to drink more water

  46. Thank you for this post. I have experienced dehydration and it is not a very pleasant feeling. Drinking enough water or any other fluid, eating a lot of fruits too would help keep our hydration up and our electrolytes balanced.

  47. I have two kids under 5 years old. I am always scared they will get dehydrated so I carry two huge water bottles from home with us everywhere we go. I also have a big dog so carrying water everywhere is kind of necessary. But sometimes I forget, when I do, I take them for freezies 😀 Great tips, thank you for taking the time to write this.

  48. Perfect timing on your post! I have started pushing my kids to stay hydrated already!

  49. Thanks for the tips. I hate the feeling of being dehydrated….

  50. This is great information with summer coming up so fast. I know too many people who take hydration lightly, and it’s no joke!

  51. This is such a problem in our house! My kids want to be in the sun all day long without drinking more! It can be such a challenge for sure.

  52. Perfect timing for this post and reminding us about drinking lots of water this summer! Well, drinking water anytime, really. But, its amazing how quickly one can become dehydrated and especially for kids this is major.

  53. I have battled chronic dehydration for years. I certainly know the importance of getting enough fluids. A lot of people count sodas and sports drinks in that. Sodas are not good for rehydrating at all. While sports drinks provide essential minerals, they still don’t hydrate thoroughly. Water is the best thing for when you are dehydrated.

  54. An ice cappuccino would be lovely for a hot summer day. My son used to complaint about headache every time he comes back from soccer game. We thought it’s just the heat but glad to know it’s his body dehydrating. Will make sure to prepare him more water bottles this summer.

  55. I have battled with dehydration since I was a kid. Neither my Mom nor I ever really feel thirsty so it’s easy to forget to drink water. Now I find myself drinking a lot of coffee, which dehydrates me even more. I start seeing black spots and get super dizzy. Drinking water as I type this. Great reminder!

  56. This is really great information to have on hand. It can be easy to skip out on water when celebrating the summer fun times. Got to be aware.

  57. Dehydration is so dangerous and it is very important to be aware of signs. During the summer, I always try to carry water with me so I don’t have to worry about dehydration.

  58. Staying hydrated is so important. I know I am always on top of it for my kids but myself? I need to pay more attention and hydrate more!

  59. I am always motivated to stay hydrated with some sweet drinks. I heard that coconut is a great way to say hydrate and it tastes great.

  60. This is actually a perfect seasonal post with summer right around the corner! So many people don’t know when their water intake is too low and run the risk of having a serious health episode.

  61. This is so helpful to know! I am aware of some of the symptoms of dehydration and I don’t want to ever forget this. And we should always be on watch of our water intake especially during summer.

  62. Dehydration can be deadly especially for very young and old people. They can’t sense dehydration effectively. Thanks for this post.

  63. This dehydration is nothing to mess with! My sister in law got seriously sick from being dehydrated. I am constantly harping on my kids to drink water all day long!

  64. What a good reminder to stay hydrated! Kids are hard to keep hydrated so I love your tips on getting them to drink fluids.

  65. Besides the color of my urine I can always physically tell when I am dehydrated. I feel like crap on a stick and tired.

  66. This is definitely great info to know! Summer days can get hot and the last thing we want is a trip to the hospital or worse. Appreciate you sharing!!

  67. While I try to get the recommended amount of water each day, I still struggle with dehydration from time to time. It’s so important to be aware of the signs especially when it’s hot out!

  68. This is so, so important. Dehydration is a problem that a lot of people have and they don’t even know it. This is great information.

  69. Here in the Philippines, summer just ended, but I was constantly drinking water as much as I can. I even bought my daughter a Hello Kitty Eco Bottle just to encourage her to drink more! To stay hydrated, I always keep a bottle near me. Little sips can go a long way.

  70. Wow! Thank you For this. Got some new info

  71. Thanks for sharing the signs of dehydration. Some aren’t as obvious, like the headache.

  72. It is always important to hydrate! It is so easy to get dehydrated too! Thanks for this reminder to make sure our kids in our family are safe because sometimes they are playing so much in this heat and can easily get dehydrated.

  73. This is a great reminder to drink your water not just in the summer but all year long. If you get in the habit, you won’t have to worry about dehydration.

  74. This is why we have to be creative when it comes to making the kids drink more water. It’s really important especially when the summer heat takes over.

  75. Staying hydrated is super important, and I try to drink at least more than 2L of water everyday. Especially when it comes to kids or people younger than me, I try to make them eventually drink water so they won’t get dehydrated!

  76. It’s always so important to keep hydrated, especially in Australia during the summer time. I especially love the tip that anything at room temperature is considered a liquid! I never knew that, but it will be something I’ll be sure to remember for the future!

  77. That’s really important. Summer is going to drain our kids and us especially when we’re always outside playing and just soaking in the sun. It’s really important to have water and other drinks with you that will help keep your body hydrated throughout the day.

  78. It’s definitely important to have all that you need to keep you and your kids hydrated. It’s also good to give them choices when it comes to water and other drinks, so that they won’t get tired of drinking the same thing.

  79. Ironically I always get incredibly swollen fingers in summer when I start getting dehydrated. Once I had to have my ring cut open because I just couldn’t get it off. Oops! x

  80. It is so easy to forget about drinking water regularly to keep myself hydrated that I have installed an APP for reminding me to hydrate.

  81. Luckily I drink quite a lot so generally I don’t get anything like this but it’s so important in the sunshine to drink even more x

  82. It is so important for us all to stay hydrated. I was always lucky with my boys because they love to drink water. In the summer months popsicles are a great source to use for hydrating and adding fresh fruit to your water helps too. Thanks for sharing the signs of dehydration.

  83. An important piece of information here. Water is a source must for life that usually gets ignored. Drinking good amount of water regularly can prevent so many diseases..!

  84. Thanks for taking the time to share these signs. Our little guy got really dehydrated last year and we ended up in the hospital. Poor guy.

  85. I have to drink a lot because I mainly breathe through my mouth. A lot of the signs are hard because I have those polyps that are giving me headaches. We go by our number 1 – if it’s yellow drink more, if it’s clear you’re good. I drink a turmeric drink daily, which messed the previous sentence all up. Ha!

    I told Isaak to drink more during his camps last year. He’d drink his full thermos right when he got to camp. Then he’d wet just a bit because he had so much water. I’m like, “You’re too old for this!” So I’d had to tell him to drink less. LOL

  86. It’s so important to stay hydrated during spring and summer. These are important tips to keep in mind for warmer weather.

  87. I am working so hard to make sure I am drinking enough water!

  88. With the summer heat coming this is valuable information. It gets really hot here in Texas!

  89. This is really Important I didn’t know certain things good to know. Thank you for share this tips

  90. I have a friend who dehydrates all the time. She doesn’t mean to but she gets headaches from it a lot. It’s no fun!

  91. I had to get an IV once for dehydration and it was no fun. This is great information and I great reminder that we have to stay hydrated. We especially need to pay attention to the kids.

  92. Dehydration is indeed dangerous so we have to know the signs and prevent it

  93. Preventing dehydration is very important especially for children and athlete. My son is an athlete and we make sure he has enough Gatorade when he plays baseball and basketball to keep him rehydrated.

  94. It’s so important to stay hydrated, especially during the summer. I’m always having to remind my daughter that she needs to drink more water

  95. Dehydration has gotten the best of me before. I have had fainting spells and those are not fun so great info to look out for the signs and stay hydrated always.

  96. Great advice! It really is amazing how important something so simple is to how you look and feel everyday. I try to be conscious of my water intake, especially when we are out in the sun or when I’m working out

  97. I may have been dehydrated once or twice, but not severe enough to seek help. I drink more water based on the colour of urine at all times anyways. I have seen a very dehydrated cat once. We had to put an IV in his scruff.

  98. Hydration is so important! Our bodies thrive on it and definitely let us know when we haven’t had enough.

  99. It is so important to stay hydrated! It’s very easy to forget to drink water sometimes, but I always try and keep a drink nearby. Being dehydrated isn’t much fun at all 🙁

  100. I grew up in Arizona and have lived here my entire life. Dehydration is so scary if you don’t know the signs. Take care of yourself and hydrate!

  101. It’s always important to know the signs of dehydration. It gets so hot here in the summer and with me nursing my little guy, having a steady supply of water is NEEDED. <3

  102. I am fortunate that all of my boys are great water drinkers! My oldest though, he gets dehydrated so easily!

  103. Such a great post and an important one. I always bring water bottles where ever we go, especially for the kids!

  104. I also feel like I have a low graded headache when I’m dehydrates so I make sure to drink A LOT of peppermint tea all day long!

  105. Summer just ended in my part of the world. To make sure my family’s hydrated, I always remind them o drink plenty of water from time to time and I make ice pops for my kids.

  106. Dehydration can sneak up on you quickly. Knowing the signs and how to stay hydrated when the weather is warmer is so important,

  107. Making my husband read this right now! Staying hydrated is so important, especially in the summer heat.

  108. Dehydration is so more serious than many persons realize. Sometimes persons are not even hungry, they are just dehydrated

  109. Kids depends more on juices, milk or chocolate drinks lately. I always introduce water to my son. We can’t be too dependable with these drinks. Let’s teach our kids to drink more water so they won’t get dehydrated.