Dehydration – Signs, Risks and Ways to Increase Water Intake 

Written by: Kimberly HofnerUSF Dietetic Intern, University of South Florida College of Public Health

Dehydration occurs when you don’t take in as much fluid as your body is putting out. This can happen to anyone of any age, but is especially critical for older adults. Older adults are at a greater risk for dehydration because they already have a lower amount of water in their bodies due to older age. They also have a decreased sense of thirst and often times limited mobility to access water. In addition, many of them are on medications that can cause dehydration.

This is why Meals On Wheels of Tampa includes an 8oz bottle of water with each hot meal delivered! Delivering a serving of water each day not only eliminates the barriers to accessing water but it also serves as reminder to stay hydrated.

Water helps the body run properly, maintain body temperature, and can reduce the risks of kidney stones, urinary tract infections, and constipation.

The signs and symptoms of dehydration for adults are:

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

The risks of dehydration:

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Digestion problems
  • Mild dehydration: affect mood, memory, & processing information
  • Severe dehydration: confusion, kidney failure, heart problems, and even death

Ways to increase water throughout the day:

  • Drink water & fluids throughout the day
  • Pick water over soda or other sugar sweetened beverages
  • Fruits high in water content: cantaloupe, watermelon, strawberries
  • Vegetables high in water content: lettuce, cabbage, spinach, celery, & cooked squash

Remember to drink water throughout the entire day and not just with meals, at the end of the day, or when thirsty. Doing this will prevent dehydration risk. Be aware that medical attention is needed for severe dehydration!

References:

Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2021, October 14). Dehydration. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved October 18, 2021, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dehydration/symptoms-causes/syc-20354086.

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