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7 Dehydration Symptoms You Need to Know | What is Dehydration?

September 13, 2017 8 min read

Most of the recommendations for dehydration on this blog are taken straight out of our Rethinking Dry Eye Treatment book, which you can get free for a limited time, just pay shipping.  Click here to purchase and learn more.

What is Dehydration? Dehydration Definition

Treatment for ALL disease should start with drinking plenty of water daily. At least seventy-five percent (75%!!!) of us walk around dehydrated. You should be carrying around a reusable water bottle with you at all times (do yourself and our planet a favor and avoid disposable plastic water bottles).

By definition, dehydration occurs when there is a significant loss of body fluid that impairs bodily functions. Said a different way, dehydration is when your body is not getting the water it needs to function, and this occurs when you're not intaking enough water during the day.

Follow the motto, if you think, drink!  This means that every time you think about drinking water, you should take a drink.  We all have a survival mechanism that tells us we are starting to get thirsty before we even do.

So, what are the symptoms of dehydration? Below we're going to dive more deeply into this topic and how you can prevent these symptoms in the first place, but here are the main symptoms to watch out for:

  1. Excessive thirst
  2. Dry mouth
  3. Sore throat
  4. Fatigue
  5. Decreased urination or deep yellow urine
  6. Headache
  7. Dizziness

Causes of Dehydration

Dehydration can be caused by many specific things but, in general, it's caused by either not drinking enough fluid or too much fluid loss. Fluid can be lost through tears, sweat, vomiting, diarrhea, and urine output. The amount of fluid you lose depends on many different factors including the climate you live in, the temperature outside (hot weather), your level of physical activity, and more.

Remember that bout of food poisoning you had a few months ago? Yep, that's something you'll likely never forget and sickness such as this can be a huge cause of dehydration. But even more common than that, working out heavily while not drinking enough water can lead to serious complications. Running a marathon without drinking water throughout is going to dehydrate you. Going on a long hike or a long bike ride and forgetting to bring your CamelBakis going to dehydrate you. Drinking coffee and nothing else throughout your day is an issue (more on this in a bit). These are just a few examples of ways you're becoming dehydrated.

Rethinking Dry Eye Treatment

Does Coffee Dehydrate You?

Coffee (and caffeine in general) are mild diuretics, which means that they do cause you to lose water by telling your kidneys to flush extra salt and water. However, they do not necessarily contribute to dehydration because you're really only going to lose the amount of fluid that you had during your coffee break.

To ensure that you're not dehydrating yourself with coffee, make sure to drink at least the same amount of water after you've enjoyed your coffee. Unless you're drinking an entire pot by yourself, dehydration will not occur due to coffee alone.

7 Dehydration Symptoms You Need To Be Aware of & Signs of Dehydration

There are quite a few signs and symptoms you may notice when you're dehydrated, and often we see patients who just need to drink more water in order to get their eyes and bodies running at an optimal level and feeling great. Below are a few symptoms of dehydration you might notice:

  1. Excessive thirst - If you feel thirsty, this is your body telling you to drink more water.  So drink more water! We recommend keeping a reusable water bottle next to you at all times, and make sure to fill it with filtered water throughout your day.
  2. Dry mouth - Nothing is better than filling a dry mouth with water to hydrate it and your body. Dry mouth can often be combated by simply drinking more water, and the rest of your body will thank you.
  3. Sore throat - When you have an irritated throat, cool water can help soothe that irritation. Alternatively, some people find warm water to be soothing, especially in the morning. If this is you, warm up that water and enjoy!
  4. Fatigue - This is one of the biggest symptoms of dehydration that we see, and unfortunately most people grab for more coffee and caffeine instead of drinking 20 ounces of water.  That water will energize you more at 2:00 pm than the coffee will, and it'll prevent any caffeine crash later on.
  5. Decreased urination or deep yellow urine - This is a warning sign that it is time to drink more water.  A lot of people complain about having to pee more when they drink water, peeing (and pooping) are your body's way to eliminate waste.  Pee MORE! :)
  6. Headache - This is another very common symptom of dehydration, but, again, we tend to grab ibuprofen instead of drinking water.  This will cause even more dehydration and dry eyes. If you simply drink more water, you'll increase the fluid in your body and decrease the pressure in your head.
  7. Dizziness - Now it is time to REALLY drink more water as your brain is not functioning like it should. Dizziness is a worrisome symptom of dehydration and is one you should not ignore.

Dehydration Headache

We're going to highlight a few major symptoms, and a headache is one to watch out for. When the body becomes dehydrated, often from sweating too much during exercise without any intake of fluid, the brain can temporarily shrink due to the fluid loss.

This mechanism causes the brain to pull away from the skull, which ultimately causes the pain that you feel as a headache. When you rehydrate yourself (which you should quickly, to avoid other issues), your headache should subside.

Dry Eyes from Dehydration

Of course we had to dive deeper into this one because so many of you with dry eyes don't realize that you could prevent much of your dryness by drinking more water! Did you know that you should be drinking half your body weight in ounces of water per day? That's 75 ounces of water for a 150 pound person.

If your intake is not as high as it should be, consider purchasing a reusable water bottle that you can fill with filtered water and carry around with you throughout the day. Your eyes will thank you!

Remember that, by definition, dehydration occurs when there is a significant loss of body fluid that impairs bodily functions. Said a different way, dehydration is when your body is not getting the water it needs to function, and this occurs when you're not intaking enough water during the day. When your eyes are not receiving proper hydration, the lacrimal glands have a tough time functioning to produce tears and the meibomian glands cannot produce healthy oil. Whether you believe it or not, your eyes are an extension of the rest of your body and water plays a huge role in their ability to function at an optimal level.

Dehydration Treatment

Hydration: Drink Filtered Water

Drinking more high quality, filtered water is often the first treatment for dehydration. But preventing it in the first place is key! One of the first things that I do every morning is at about 7:00 AM. I drink about 32 ounces or more of water before eating anything. We also do our exercise routine first thing in the morning after we finish reading, meditation, and breathing.

berkey water filter

When I hydrate I like to fill my CamelBakup with just a little splash of apple cider vinegar and then I fill it up with water from my Berkey water filtration system. A Berkey water filtration system gets all the contaminants, chlorine, and heavy metals out of the water. 

Avoid beverages and foods which have diuretic effects such as coffee, caffeinated teas (limit to less than two cups per day), and alcohol (less than one standard drink per day). If you must have your caffeine, make sure you’re drinking at least that same amount of water right after to avoid dehydration. Remember that diuretics cause you to lose water by telling your kidneys to flush extra salt and water. Although they do not directly dehydrate you, they can if you're not also drinking water.

Also drinking organic coffees and teas will make a big difference in the amount of toxins you are putting in your body. Sports drinks are fine to hydrate yourself with if you're exercising a ton however, make sure you're watching the sugar. You should likely only be drinking small amounts of sports drinks. Drink water instead!

Hydration Pack

I mentioned this already, but a hydration pack such as a CamelBak backpack should be a necessity in your life. If you exercise, you can simply fill it with water, put it on, and have all the hydration you need during the time you're away from home. Great times to use a hydration pack include long walks or runs, bike rides, during hikes, and even while watching your kids or grandkids play soccer. You'll be drinking fluids without even realizing it!


How To Prevent Dehydration


Hyper-hydration is a term given to drinking a lot of water in a short period of time to flush the body with water.  Wake up with a hyper-hydration session of 16 to 32 ounces of water (two to four cups, 0.5 to 1.0 liter). You can add a squeeze of lemon or apple cider vinegar to your water for enhanced effects. It will take your body a few days to adjust to drinking this much first thing, but the effects are well worth it!

Flushing the body with water and staying properly hydrated has numerous effects on the body including boosting your metabolism by 30-50% for the next two hours (which is like working out). It will flush your circulatory and lymphatic system of toxins accumulated in the body throughout the day before, as water is the purge vehicle for toxins.

Along with flushing the body of these toxins, proper hydration lowers the noise in your body and connects your mind to your body, which means less brain fog and more clarity. You will feel the effects of hydration after three days of using hyper-hydration in the morning.  You will feel clearer and more alive than ever before!

Three-Step System To Stay Hydrated

  • Drink 16 to 32 ounces (0.5 to 1.0 liter) of water right after waking up, before eating. The benefits of hyper-hydration first thing in the morning are that you purge toxins, flush the circulatory & lymphatic system, and boost metabolism.
  • Keep close proximity to water.¬†Everytime you look at your water bottle, take a drink.¬†¬†
  • If you think, drink! ¬†As stated above, if you think about drinking water, it is your body‚Äôs way of telling you it needs some water. ¬†This will help you stay hydrated all day and lead to a 30 to 50% increase in metabolism.

As with anything else, make sure to speak with your doctor if you have questions or have kidney issues and are unsure of the amount of water you should be drinking. We usually recommend half your body weight in ounces (75 ounces for a 150 pound person) but needs can certainly vary from person to person.

How do you stay hydrated?

Do you have any tips or tricks you'd like to share in the comments below?

One Love,

 Drs. Travis Zigler

Dr. Travis Zigler, SeeEO of Eye Love

Join us in the Dry Eye Syndrome Support Community on Facebook and on YouTube during the Dry Eye Show

Most of the recommendations for dehydration on this blog are taken straight out of our Rethinking Dry Eye Treatment book, which you can get free for a limited time, just pay shipping.  Click here to purchase and learn more.

2 Responses


May 08, 2019

Hey Mari Lynn,

Thank you for your comment! Due to your specific circumstances we would definitely advise you to stay with the amount you are currently drinking and not go against your Dr.’s advice. We are here for you if you need anything or have any questions any time.

Mari Lynn Coffin
Mari Lynn Coffin

May 08, 2019

At 82 I weigh 145 & have stage 3 kidney failure. My Nephrologist told me I didn’t need to drink half my body weight in ounces of water daily. Most of the time my urine is totally clear or very very pale yellow. I doubt I drink more than 40-45 oz a day if that. So I feel damned if I do and damned if I don’t. I do agree that water helps my eyes, but the caveat is more water puts a strain on my kidneys. Any suggestions or comments? Thank you for all you do for us. You’ve helped me in many ways.

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