dry, cave, man sitting
Photo by Ancient Pathways
Dehydration can sneak up on you if you are not careful in the wild.

Lose just 1.5 percent of the water in your body (the human body is usually about 60 percent H2O) and you’ve reached the tipping point of mild dehydration. It can be brought on by many things, and it can do much more to your body than just make you feel thirsty. Here are 12 dehydration symptoms and warning signs that you need to know to save yourself.

Bad Breath:

When dehydrated, the decreased saliva in the mouth allows bacteria to thrive, resulting in bad breath.

Sugar Cravings:

Dehydration can mask itself as hunger, particularly sugar cravings.

Low Performance:

A 2-percent dehydration level in your body causes a 10-percent decrease in athletic performance. The more dehydrated you become, the worse performance gets.

Dry Skin:

If you work out every day or are a caffeine fiend, you’ll need to drink more fluids to stay hydrated. Also, keep showers short (less than five minutes) and use only lukewarm water, as hot water can dry your skin out even more.

Impaired Driving:

The number of driving errors doubled during a two-hour drive when drivers were dehydrated versus hydrated—an effect similar to driving while drunk (defined by most states as .08-percent blood alcohol).


When you’re dehydrated, your blood pressure drops, your heart rate increases and blood flow to the brain slows, all of which can make you tired A lack of water to muscles also makes physical tasks feel more difficult and tiring.

Bad Mood:

A small study published in the Journal of Nutrition tested mood and concentration in 25 young women who were either given enough fluids to remain properly hydrated, or who became mildly dehydrated by taking diuretics and exercising. The dehydrated women reported headaches, loss of focus and irritability.

Low Body Temperature:

This occurs because your body starts to limit blood flow to the skin. In addition, water holds heat, so if you become hydrated, it can be more difficult to regulate your body temperature, which can make you become chilled faster, even when you’re not in a cold environment.

Muscle Cramps:

A lack of water causes less blood circulation, which can make muscles cramp up. The body will protect its vital organs, so it shifts fluid away from muscles and anything that’s not vital.


Your body needs water to keep things moving through your colon. When you’re not getting enough H2O, your body compensates by withdrawing more fluid from stool, making it harder and more difficult to pass.

Brain Fatigue:

Along with muscles, your brain also gets less blood circulation when you’re low on water, which can make you dizzy. Additionally, mild dehydration may affect your ability to take on mental tasks.


Lack of water affects your body’s serotonin levels, which can give you headaches. Small blood vessels in the brain respond quickly to hydration levels, leading to dull aches and even full-blown migraines.

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