How to tell if you are dehydrated – dangerous long-term effects explained

Dehydration: Dr Phillipa outlines the main symptoms

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Dehydration is a real risk at present, as the latest heatwave draws people outside into baking temperatures. The current weather forecast suggests these conditions will continue for the rest of the working week. As people continue to work from home or enjoy their new freedoms outside, they need to replace lost fluids.

How do you tell if you are dehydrated?

Dehydration causes a range of hallmark symptoms, ranging from mild to potentially severe.

As such, they can sometimes prove tricky to identify and may go under the radar as people go about their lives.

But symptoms can rapidly progress, depending on people’s lifestyles, and could leave them in a dangerous situation.

Early symptoms of dehydration include:

  • Excessive thirst
  • Dark yellow or pungent urine
  • Feeling lightheaded or dizzy
  • Fatigue and tiredness
  • Dry mouth, lips and eyes
  • Infrequent urination, fewer than four times daily

Those most at risk of dehydration include diabetes sufferers, those sick with diarrhoea or vomiting, excessive drinkers and those who exercise regularly.

People may require urgent attention for dehydration from A&E, and there are several warning signs for severe cases.

They include:

  • Feeling unusually tired
  • Confusion or disorientation
  • Persistent dizziness that persists when people stand up
  • Not urinating at all during the day
  • A weak or rapid pulse
  • Having seizures


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What are the long-term effects of dehydration?

People need to stay on top of their water intake at all times during the summer, as frequent or prolonged dehydration can cause an array of health issues.

Longer-term health problems arising from dehydration are otherwise known as complications and come following nutrient or oxygen deprivation.

Dehydration can also leave people more vulnerable to the effects of excessive heat.

Dehydration complications include:

  • Seizures – caused by an electrolyte imbalance
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Kidney stones
  • Kidney failure
  • Heat injury – caused by excessive exercise, potentially resulting in heatstroke or heat exhaustion
  • Low blood volume shock – when low blood volume causes blood pressure to drop

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