Staying hydrated is especially important in the hot summer months. Here's how to tell if you are getting what you need.

Jessica Ball, M.S., R.D.
June 24, 2020
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As we enter the dog days of summer, staying hydrated is more important than ever. However, most Americans do not drink enough water to meet their needs. In fact, the CDC found that only about 30 percent of total water consumed by adults was from plain water, while the rest was from sodas, juices or foods. Here we call out five ways to tell if you are dehydrated, and tips on what to do about it.

5 Ways to Tell if You're Dehydrated

You're Thirsty

This one may seem obvious, but by time you feel thirsty you are typically already dehydrated. Luckily, thirst and dry mouth are usually signs of mild or moderate dehydration. It is important to get some water soon after you feel thirst coming on so dehydration does not get more severe.

You Haven't Gone to the Bathroom

It may sound like too much information, but the best way to tell how hydrated you are is by looking at your urine color. A hydrated person should have light, almost clear urine that is pale yellow in color. If your urine is dark yellow, you could be moderately dehydrated. If it is much darker or you haven't gone to the bathroom in several hours, it can be a sign of severe dehydration.

You Feel Tired

Feeling fatigued can be another way that dehydration manifests itself. Water helps keep your body working smoothly and your mind sharp and when you don't have enough of it, your body has to work harder to do daily tasks, resulting in fatigue. Before turning to caffeine, like coffee or tea, which are diuretics that can dehydrate you more, sip on some water to get your energy levels back up.

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You're Head Hurts

Feeling irritable and have a headache coming on? We've all been there. Not drinking enough water may be the culprit. Studies have found that dehydration can disrupt cognition and mood, leading to these uncomfortable side effects.

You Feel Dizzy or Confused

Beyond shifts in mood, dehydration can lead to disorientation and dizziness. Forgetfulness can also accompany these symptoms. If you have been out in the sun or have gone a while without drinking water, it's important to hydrate as soon as possible. If these symptoms become severe, seek medical attention immediately.

Tips on How to Stay Hydrated

One of the easiest ways to get ahead of dehydration is to have water at the ready whenever you can. Bring a water bottle with you wherever you go, so it's easy to take a sip here and there and stay ahead of dehydration. Make plain water feel more exciting by mixing in some fresh fruit to infuse flavor, or add some bubbles and go for a flavored seltzer. Besides plain water, you can also get water from foods, specifically fruits and vegetables. Some of our favorite hydrating foods include everything from watermelons to brown rice (yes, really—1/2 cup of cooked brown rice delivers 2.5 oz. of water).