8 Sneaky Signs You’re Dehydrated, According to a Dietitian

We all know the importance of staying hydrated. Water is essential for countless bodily functions, from regulating body temperature to flushing toxins. But let’s face it, amidst our busy lives, grabbing a glass of water often falls by the wayside.

The problem? Dehydration often creeps up on us slowly, and by the time we feel parched, our bodies might already be sending out subtle signals.

So, how do you know if you’re dehydrated without relying solely on thirst? Registered Dietitian, Sarah Jackson, breaks down 8 sneaky signs your body might be crying out for water.


Headaches are a common complaint, and dehydration can be a surprising culprit. When you’re dehydrated, your brain tissue shrinks slightly, triggering pain receptors and leading to a throbbing headache.

Grab a glass of water and see if the pain starts to subside. If headaches are a frequent issue, consider carrying a reusable water bottle and sipping throughout the day to stay ahead of dehydration.

Fatigue and Lack of Energy

Feeling tired and sluggish for no apparent reason? Dehydration might be to blame. Water is essential for transporting nutrients throughout your body, and when you’re dehydrated, this process becomes less efficient.

This can lead to fatigue, decreased concentration, and a general lack of energy. The next time you hit a midday slump, ditch the sugary coffee and reach for a glass of water instead. You might be surprised how quickly your energy levels pick up.

Dry Mouth and Feeling Parched

Dry mouth and feeling parched are classic signs of dehydration, but they don’t always occur right away. By the time you feel them, you might already be moderately dehydrated.

A better indicator is the color of your urine. Pale yellow urine indicates good hydration, while dark yellow or amber-colored urine suggests dehydration.

Make it a habit to check the color of your urine throughout the day. If it’s consistently dark, up your water intake to ensure you’re staying adequately hydrated.

Dry Skin

Dry, flaky skin can be caused by various factors, but dehydration can definitely contribute to it. Water helps keep your skin plump and hydrated, giving it a healthy glow.

When you’re dehydrated, your skin loses its elasticity and can become dry and rough. Drinking plenty of water helps hydrate your skin from the inside out, promoting a healthy and radiant complexion.


Dehydration can wreak havoc on your digestive system. Water helps soften stool and keeps things moving smoothly through your digestive tract. When you’re dehydrated, your body draws water from your stool, making it harder and more difficult to pass.

If you’re experiencing constipation, increasing your water intake can help soften stool and promote regularity.

Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)

While UTIs can have various causes, dehydration can increase your risk. Water helps dilute urine and flush out bacteria that might contribute to UTIs.

When you’re dehydrated, your urine becomes more concentrated, creating a breeding ground for bacteria. Drinking plenty of water helps flush out these bacteria and keep your urinary tract healthy.

Sugar Cravings

Dehydration can sometimes mimic hunger pangs. When you’re dehydrated, your body might send signals that it needs fuel, leading to cravings for sugary snacks or carbohydrates.

The next time you feel a sudden urge for something sweet, try reaching for a glass of water first. You might find that your cravings subside as your body rehydrates.

Feeling Lightheaded or Dizzy

Dehydration can affect blood volume, leading to a decrease in blood flow to the brain. This can cause dizziness, lightheadedness, and even fainting in severe cases.

If you’re feeling lightheaded or dizzy, especially after exercise or on a hot day, rehydrate immediately with water or an electrolyte-rich beverage.

Remember, these signs don’t necessarily mean you’re dehydrated, but they can be indicators to pay attention to. Consulting a doctor is always recommended if you’re experiencing any concerning symptoms.

Staying Hydrated: Simple Tips for Daily Life

So, how much water should you drink? While the exact amount can vary depending on factors like activity level and climate, a general guideline is to aim for eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day.

Here are some simple tips to incorporate throughout your day:

Carry a reusable water bottle and sip regularly.

Set reminders on your phone or invest in a water bottle with time markers. Gentle nudges can help you stay on track, especially if you tend to forget to drink water.

Infuse your water with fruits, vegetables, or herbs. Adding slices of cucumber, lemon, or berries can add a subtle flavor and encourage you to drink more.

Include water-rich foods in your diet. Fruits and vegetables like watermelon, cucumber, celery, and leafy greens are all high in water content and contribute to your daily hydration needs.

Choose water over sugary drinks. Sugary sodas, juices, and sports drinks can contribute to dehydration and weight gain. Opt for water as your primary beverage of choice.

Pay attention to your urine color. As mentioned earlier, pale yellow urine indicates good hydration, while dark yellow or amber-colored urine suggests dehydration. Adjust your water intake accordingly.

Increase water intake during exercise and hot weather. When you sweat, you lose fluids, so it’s crucial to replenish them with water.

Drink plenty of water before, during, and after exercise, and adjust your intake based on the intensity and duration of your workout. Similarly, on hot and humid days, be extra mindful of your water intake to avoid dehydration.


By incorporating these tips and staying mindful of your body’s signals, you can ensure you’re adequately hydrated and reap the numerous benefits it offers.

Remember, water is essential for optimal health, so prioritize hydration and feel the difference it can make in your energy levels, physical performance, and overall well-being.

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