Last Updated: March 24, 2020

Chronic dehydration can be a very serious health issue. Your body needs a regular intake of water to function properly. You need water and proper hydration more than you think.

Don’t believe me?

Consider the fact that you can live about 1 month without food but only a week without water.

Dehydration Meaning

Dehydration is the resulting condition that occurs when your body loses more water than it receives.

This creates an imbalance that disrupts the normal level of sugars and salt in your blood. If this is not resolved within a reasonable amount of time and / or keeps on happening on a regular basis then it can severely interfere with the way your body functions.

The sad thing is that around 75% of American adults are chronically dehydrated according to doctors.

Constant and chronic dehydration over a long period of time can lead to serious health issues including things like poor sleep, weight gain, high blood pressure and even digestive disorders.

So, let’s find out how to spot the early warning signs and simple ways to stay well hydrated.

What Is Dehydration?

Dehydration is technically defined as the harmful reduction of water in your body. It becomes ‘chronic dehydration’ when it happens consistently over a period of time.

Your body is up to 65% water so needs constant hydration to regulate its temperature, remove harmful toxins, lubricate your joints, digest food, keep your skin healthy and your vital organs functioning properly.

However, if you suffer from constant chronic dehydration then your body can’t perform all these functions effectively.

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Dehydration Causes

Must Drink More Water To Survive Chronic Dehydration Chronic dehydration can be caused by all sorts of issues. Here are some of the most common:

  • Diseases like diabetes can cause chronic dehydration because high blood glucose levels lead to less water in the body.
  • Being in a very hot climate / temperature.
  • Suffering from a fever where your body uses up a lot of your water reserves to regulate temperature.
  • Skin injuries like mouth sores, burns where water is lost through damaged skin.
  • Not drinking enough fluids when taking part in exercise.
  • Loss of water through things like vomiting, diarrhea and lots of urination due to something like an infection.
  • Not being able to access enough water e.g. the case of a disabled person, someone on a respirator or in a coma.
  • Unable to access safe clean drinking water.

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Dehydration Symptoms In Adults

Your body will show you signs of needing to replenish its water supply when it loses between 1-2% of your body water weight.

The first and most obvious sign that you need to replenish lost liquids is you start to feel thirsty.

Mild to moderate dehydration can easily be treated but if it reaches extreme levels, it can be life-threatening and could require immediate emergency medical attention:

Mild to Moderate Dehydration

Severe or Chronic Dehydration

Minimal urine Little or no urination, and any urine color that is darker than usual


Fatigue, tiredness or sleepiness Unable to perform simple tasks and confusion
Headaches Eyes are sunken
Dry skin Dry skin does not bounce back when pinched
Sticky, dry mouth Rapid breathing
Feeling dizzy or lightheaded Low blood pressure
Constipation Rapid heartbeat
Few or no tears when crying No tears when crying
Cool, dry skin Fever
Muscle cramps Extreme thirst
 Nausea In serious cases, unconsciousness or delirium

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Dehydration Treatment

The most effective treatment for dehydration is also the most obvious one. You need to replace fluids that have been lost.

However, do NOT drink too much water in one sitting. This can be very harmful and likely cause more problems then it solves. 

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Severe or Chronic Dehydration Treatment

If you start to recognise any of the symptoms for severe or chronic dehydration, immediately seek expert medical advice. Do this because the best type of action and right treatment will depend on age, the severity of dehydration and its cause.

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Dehydration Recovery Time (Typically 24 Hours)

You should start feeling better after a few hours of sufficiently replacing the water your body has lost. 

However, it could take up to a day and a half to completely replace the fluid that you lost. If you are recovering from the effects of severe or chronic dehydration by drinking enough fluids, rest and take it easy for 24 hours.

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Dehydration Prevention

The best way to prevent dehydration is to know the early warning signs and drink enough fluids throughout the day.

Apart from listening to your body and monitoring your thirst levels, here are 2 ways to check for dehydration:

  • Check your urine. This has to be the oldest trick in the book but it works! Your urine is one of the best indicators of dehydration.

Lightish yellow, mostly clear urine could be a sign of good hydration.

Orange or dark yellow urine are “warning” colors and could be an indication of dehydration.

Body Dehydration Percentage Urine Appearance
3% dehydrated Noticeably yellow.
5% dehydrated Chardonnay-colored.
Over 5% dehydrated Darker yellow or orange in color.
  • Try this skin test. Another way to check your dehydration is to check how supple your skin is. To perform this test, use two fingers to pull up a roll of skin on the back of your hand. Pull up to 0.5cm high then let go. If you are properly hydrated, your skin will spring back to its original position within a few seconds. However, if your skin returns very slowly, you might be dehydrated.

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How To Hydrate Fast (Under 24 Hours)

How Much Water Should I Drink A Day Calculator
Click image above to calculate your daily water intake now.

You should first of all calculate how much water you should be drinking on a daily basis. This is based on your weight, level of physical activity and the temperature of your climate. If you have any doubts, ask a medical expert for some assistance.

When you know your daily water intake target, use the following ways to quickly increase your hydration level when you need to:

  • Eat water filled fruits and vegetables. Watermelon, strawberries, celery sticks, tomatoes and cucumbers are all over 90% water.
  • Keep ice-cubes in your mouth. It gradually hydrates AND helps to cool your body temperature at the same time.
  • Sip on healthy drinks like coconut water and fat free milk if you get bored of water.
  • Infuse fruit into your water and maybe even turn them into ice-lollies by keeping them in the freezer?
  • Drink smaller amounts of water frequently over a longer period of time. This helps your body hydrate better because it is easier to absorb then a big amount of water intake that will mostly be flushed out through urine.
  • Tame your thirst by staying in a cool environment. This will mean you lose less water through things like sweat and any water you do drink goes further.
  • Do not conduct any physically demanding activities until your body is properly hydrated.

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What To Eat When Dehydrated (List)

  • Apples, water content = 84%
  • Plums, water content = 85% 
  • Apricots, water content = 86%
  • Oranges, water content = 87%
  • Pineapple, water content = 87%
  • Peaches, water content = 88%
  • Cantaloupe, water content = 90%
  • Grapefruit, water content = 91%
  • Strawberries, water content = 92%
  • Watermelon, water content = 92%

Best Drink For Dehydration Besides Water.

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The Key to Avoiding Chronic Dehydration? Listen to Your Body.

Mr Water Geek ThinkingLet’s face it, the truth is that no one can determine if you have chronic dehydration better than you.

Do you constantly feel thirsty and never quite satisfy that feeling over a long period of time? Then chances are you’re one of the 75% of people chronically dehydrated.

The best thing is to deal with the symptoms of dehydration before it becomes severe. Take note of all the warning signs and act accordingly.

This article as highlighted many different ways you can quickly hydrate yourself and spot the early warning symptoms.

If you feel unsure about how to deal with your specific situation then the best answer is to always seek immediate and professional expert advice.

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Scientific References

Studies show most Americans are dehydrated, By Dalia Ghabour. Published: April 14th, 2015. University of Florida.

Nicolaidis S. Physiology of thirst. In: Arnaud MJ, editor. Hydration Throughout Life. Montrouge: John Libbey Eurotext; 1998. p. 247.

Scientific Opinion of the Panel on Dietetic Products Nutrition and Allergies. Draft Dietary reference values for water. The EFSA Journal. 2008:2–49.

Ramsay DJ. Homeostatic control of water balance. In: Arnaud MJ, editor. Hydration Throughout Life. Montrouge: John Libbey Eurotext; 1998. pp. 9–18.

Sawka MN, Noakes TD. Does dehydration impair exercise performance? Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2007;39:1209–1217.

Kovacs MS. A review of fluid and hydration in competitive tennis. Int J Sports Physiol Perform. 2008;3:413–423.

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How to Stay Hydrated

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Biolyte Hydration
Hi-Lyte Electrolyte
Drink Smart®
Drink More Water Journal
Pure Coconut Water
Magic-bullet Smoothie Maker
I'm a health author, science enthusiast and 100% certified geek. My passion is to help you take control of your health and well-being by understanding the true importance of good quality water and healthy hydration.


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