The chronically dehydrated need electrolytes

The Chronically Dehydrated – Symptoms and Prevention

Chronically dehydrated. It’s a serious concern. It is far more common than you may realize. I’ve read that up to 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated! Not only will you suffer immediate problems, but the long term chronically dehydrated may develop into painful kidney stones. You don’t want that!

The lack of hydration is the number one trigger of daytime fatigue. This is a problem that most people don’t realize. That is, their symptoms are being caused by not drinking enough fluids.

Also, older people often do not recognize that they’re thirsty (part of aging). As you age you lose some of your thirst instinct that you had when you were younger. You may not realize how thirsty you really are. And that could lead to becoming chronically dehydrated.

I’ve also read that losing just 2% of your body weight in water weight – compromises overall judgment by 25%, and severely limits physical endurance. Since water weighs 8-pounds per gallon, it doesn’t take much to lose 2%, or to be ‘chronically low’. That’s just a quart and a half low – for a 150 pound person (for example).

Vigorous activity, excessive sun exposure, and forgotten water breaks, are just a few factors that will affect your hydration level.

Electrolytes For Quick Boost From Being Dehydrated

First, it’s a good idea to keep electrolyte mix for just in case you need a quick boost or recovery from being dehydrated. For example, this one is clearly the most popular..

Liquid I.V.

Homemade DIY Recipe Mix For Dehydration (in a pinch)

  • 1 Cup Water
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1.5 teaspoons sugar

How We Become Chronically Dehydrated

chronically dehydrated

A person who is doing nothing, at rest, loses more than half a gallon (2 quarts) of water in a day. Once you add in exertion, climate, and other factors, this number goes much higher…

For every quart of sweat that escapes your body, your heart rate increases by about 8 beats per minute and your system becomes more stressed.

Causes of Dehydration

  • Simply not drinking enough water!
  • We lose water routinely when we breathe, and humidified air leaves the body
  • Physical activity and exertion / sweating
  • Illness / fever
  • Hot temperature environment, sunlight
  • Excessively high humidity or low humidity
  • Breathing through the mouth more than the nose
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • High winds
  • Cold temperatures (yes, during Winter too)
  • High protein, fat, and sodium diet
  • Coffee, Alcohol

Early Signs & Symptoms Of Water Dehydration

Symptoms could include any of the following.

  • Headache
  • Dry, sticky mouth
  • Irritability
  • Dizziness or lightheaded
  • Head rushes
  • Nausea / loss of appetite
  • Dry mouth, cracked lips, dry skin
  • Mild disorientation and confusion
  • Fatigue / weakness / lethargy
  • Decreased urine output / dark colored urine
  • Muscle weakness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Constipation
  • Cramps

Have you ever had a dehydration headache? (It’s one common symptom).

A dehydration headache may occur after sweating when the body loses essential fluids to function properly. … When the body is dehydrated, the brain can temporarily contract or shrink from fluid loss. This mechanism causes the brain to pull away from the skull, causing pain and resulting in a dehydration headache.


The Best Way To Know If You’re Dehydrated

If you‘re losing more fluids than you‘re taking in, dehydration is the result. Period.

A simple way of knowing that you’ve become dehydrated is dark-colored urine. Ideally it should be clear, with little or no color at all.

Clear and Copious.

– One‘s urine should NOT have a strong color.
– Urination should be fairly frequent.

If your urine is not clear like gin to pale yellow, you are dehydrated.
Dark yellow indicates serious dehydration.

Check color chart cross-reference from

check urine color to see if you are dehydrated

Don’t Wait Until You’re Thirsty To Drink Water

It’s easy to overlook the need to drink enough water and to remain optimally hydrated. Older people in particular lose some of their sense of thirst as they age.

Waiting for a ‘cue’ of thirst to trigger your motivation to drink water is already too late. When you first ‘feel’ thirst, you are already down more than a quart!

A common problem: Once you get the urge to drink, it’s typically quenched by only a few mouthfuls of water. Meaning that you are still ‘low’ and will continue to go ‘lower’! How often do you actually drink an entire quart of water when you feel thirsty? See what I mean?

Drink Fluids Early And Often

It takes time for the body to absorb fluids, so you must drink early and often. Saving your water for later can result in dehydration.

Thirst is not necessarily an indicator of dehydration. The body‘s thirst signal starts when you are already 2 to 5 percent dehydrated! Older people tend to have a diminished sense of thirst, so be particularly aware.

What To Drink, And How Much?
Someone exercising hard may lose more than a quart of water an hour!

The basic rule for avoiding dehydration is to drink plenty of fluids, but this doesn’t mean just any fluid.

Note: Diuretics such as caffeine or alcohol will not re-hydrate you as well as water. Also the body does not absorb highly sugared or carbonated beverages as rapidly, which means that soft drinks are less efficient at quenching thirst than plain water.

The best way to keep hydrated or to re-hydrate is to drink plain water.

How much? Simply monitor your urine color. When it’s back to pale or clear, you’re hydrated. Simple as that.

Tip: I work outside a lot, and during the summer months I dehydrate rather quickly. For a number of years I have been using an electrolyte replacement (a powder) which I stir in with my water for rapid hydration. It has made a very clear difference (I can feel the energy coming back) when I’ve become overly dehydrated.

Tip: Be sure to drink enough water during the winter months, when you may not realize that you’re actually getting dehydrated.

drink lots of water during the winter too.

Being Chronically Dehydrated Leads To Kidney Stones

I have never had this problem and I hope that I never do!! I’ve heard that it is the most painful experience… Recently (and the reason I’m updating this article) I watched a video about kidney stones. I was shocked to realize the apparent pain that these can cause. It got me to thinking about what I can do to avoid getting kidney stones.

The NUMBER ONE WAY to reduce your risk of getting kidney stones is to drink plenty of water! Hydrate! There are a number of other factors that contribute to getting a kidney stone. But drinking lots of water is proven to be the primary mitigation method.

As I update this, it’s currently winter. I know that I don’t drink enough water during the winter. I just don’t think about it like I should. So I will be renewing my efforts.

Like I said earlier, the best way to monitor your hydration level is the color of your urine.

More: Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke


  1. On hot days, they used to tell us “If you don’t have to pee, you’re not drinking enough” – LOL
    There are also drinks one should avoid over indulging in when one is going to be outside in the heat.
    Tea (including the sacred southern drink- iced tea)
    Alcoholic beverages, including beer
    Those contain caffeine or alcohol which are both diuretics, which causes your body to expel water.

  2. Good article. Need to point out that in dryer climates, like the Western US, you will need to hydrate even more, as your sweat evaporates extremely quickly.

    I suggest that during hard work you re-hydrate on a schedule. Stop every 15 or 30 minutes and force yourself (everyone else too) to drink at least 1 pint (if not two) of water or electrolyte drink. Mix it up, water and electrolyte drinks, straight water consumption can lead to headaches too.

    We used to take ‘salt tablets’ with water to replace or electrolytes. Not unusual for my crew members to drink several quarts of water an hour working outside in the summer.

    One of my daily pre-shift jobs was to stop at the gas station and buy cases of water, gator-aid, and ice and fill a huge cooler. Health and Safety guy would help me make sure everyone would drink fluids on schedule, it was that important!

    1. Also, in stressful situations, you will need to Re-Hydrate more often. Need to make re-hydrating a ‘clockwork’ type of response. Going down because you are dehydrated is not fun.

  3. The army used to dispense salt tablets when it was hot out. They stopped the practice for reasons not none to me. I suspect it was too many troops becoming hypernatremic. Normally I’m a proponent of lower salt diets as we tend to get all we need from the foods we eat. As we all know sweat tastes salty so losing without replacing causes hyponatremia.

    Many of us have heard of fraternity parties where frat brothers hazed their pledges by making them drink excessive amounts of water. This practice obviously increases urination. Urine also has salt in it and the more you pee without replacing the salt the lower your salt level will fall. Now you have hyponatremia. First symptom is usually a headache, then nausea followed by confusion.

    Eat some salt if this is happening. Doesn’t take a lot. one of those little packets that they give out at the fast food places is adequate.

  4. A method I found on the net (must be true…), I thumb and forefinger grab the skin on the back of my hand, pull up to make a small tent, then let go of the tent. If the skin tent drops back slowly you need to hydrate. If hydrated the tent goes back to flat, almost snapping back to the back of the hand.

    1. That is actually true. It’s a quick and easy check. I used to work phone triage at a doctor’s office, and that (along with urine color) is what I would tell folks to do to check for dehydration.

  5. After experiencing dehydration to the point of almost passing out, I have become very aware of the need to drink water .

    I was bucking logs into firewood rounds on a hot August day and wanted to finish the 2 or 3 logs that were left. Mistake , I should have been resting and drinking water all along during the work .

    In a SHTF world we will be doing a lot more physical work and dehydration will become a big concern .
    Stay wet.

  6. Honey and Apple Cider Vinegar to start the day. Start early… around 6 am. 1 tablespoon Honey, 2 tablespoons ACV. Mix well and add 6-8 oz water and stir and drink, then, eat a hearty breakfast.

    On a hot humid day I consume at least a quart of cool water an hour spaced out about 15-20 minute intervals, then a small glass of ice cold pickle juice at the end of the work day (homemade of course). Fermented sauerkraut juice is much better if you have it. My day is usually done by 1-2 pm, cooling down in front of a fan on the back porch with a couple ice cold beers and a couple shots of tequila.

    If you are working outside on a hot day and stop sweating, you are at the threshold of a very serious problem.

    Drink lots of plain water interspersed with fermented juices. We make lots of dill pickles and sauerkraut so always have a jar of pickle or sauerkraut juice in the refrigerator. It’s like medicine for us.

    1. CrabbeNebulae
      Had to laugh as a kid would love to drink the dill pickle juice after being out in the heat. My mom would say “YOU are going to get sick drinking that stuff”. Never did become ill or have problems with dehydration or other illness. thanks for the memory

      1. AC funny story…My grandkids would all have pickle shot contests after a good hike on a camping trip. Lots of fun over a game of Hearts!

  7. Funny you should post as such, Ken
    We’re having a heat wave in the mitten.

    GF was the early hrs yesterday, but evidently too.much time.outside. She felt.sick headache and such.

    These hot days I’ve been hydrating more. Water and mother’s ACV.

    Is funny, weird, I don’t hydrate myself enough, but don’t,. haven’t had issues.

    Will.see how this hot week.goes. Home alone and plenty of chores to be had. (Put.on the thinking cap)

    1. We (in New England) are under a blistering heat wave. As bad as it gets here. 90’s with dew points in the mid 70’s (absolutely completely ridiculously awful). I’ve been working out there in this weather (off and on with breaks) and it’s miserable. This is what inspired this post today ;)

      1. Ken
        Good thoughts.
        Temps in the in a bouts nineties, heat index 100 plus
        Where’s winter??
        Heck no I can deal with hot!!!!

  8. Certain foods will highly discolor urine, beets in some people will cause red eliminations, asparagus will give your p that odor, also foods or vitamins high in vitamin B.

    I like the idea of examining your p by comparing it to gin, might have to stock up on this for my medical kit.

    In my daypack I carry a small block of pink salt to lick. Salt intake should be balanced with potassium sources.

    Beer doesn’t actually taste so good in very hot weather, that’s why we have air conditioning.

    1. Good idea on the pink salt. I’m guessing that’s like the Himalayan salt? I think the pink color comes from trace minerals like potassium and magnesium, which, as somebody mentioned above, are important to keep in balance with sodium.

    2. Old Chevy
      Ain’t nothin as good as cold water on a hot day……even iced beer can’t hold a candle to cool water.

      1. Very true, and don’t drink ice cold water when you are overheated, room temperature is best when you are over heated. I got heat sick from drinking ice cold lemonade while working in a corn silo, in bed for a couple of days with the chills.

        1. Back at.ya
          Unloading cement block. Break time.with water acv and a couple cubes of ice and conversation with GF.
          Then back to it. A hundred blocks more to go…….

        2. I drink ice water all day long, every day of the year. I have 4 bottles of it with me most work days, and drink another 3 or 4 after work.

          Been doing it for years.

          So far I have never suffered any heat health issues other then being uncomfortable with humidity. But I’m self-employed (no boss breathing down my neck to work faster) and can set my own pace that is a bit slower on hot & humid days.

          On hot sticky days I usually quit after 6-hours , no need to work so hard when it’s like it has been this week.

  9. Ken,

    On the same theme, and you may consider starting another thread, but folks would be well served to educate themselves on the difference between heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Not knowing the difference and failure to know how to give immediate aid could be fatal.

  10. – I have and could tell (but won’t) lots of stories about dehydrated troops and heat injuries, even one that included about 30 naked nurses in the showers (heat stroke *is* a medical emergency, LOL). The information about skin tenting, red faces, and not necessarily feeling thirsty are all true. You can get all the salt you need with your diet. Morton salt tablets have all but disappeared, because they aren’t really a good idea.

    Most importantly, both Ken and chipmunk are absolutely correct. Had never thought about color comparison to Gin, but urine should be colored light yellow tinted to as dark as apple juice. It’s really pretty easy to check. We would tell the young soldiers to just look, it’s right out there in front of you!
    Dehydration can strike even in cold weather, though. It never hurts to look and you should be making at least 4 pit stops a day while you are awake.

    – Papa S.

  11. Tango
    Honestly I have not read the paper while peeing.
    On the other hand, I have dropped my phone in the toilet….. didn’t take.the time to read it

  12. I did drop my watch years back in a Spanish squat toilet. Good thing it was a cheap.

    1. Question: Did you go in and get the watch & phone???

      At least 1/2 of my watches are dive watches so they would survive.

      The phone I think would bite the dust..

      1. The watch was a cheap POS that the band broke on so I was keeping it in my back pocket. No , I didn’t dive in after it. LOL

      2. Chuck
        I’ve had a few wet phones. One on the deck, forgotten in the rain. The other in the toilet.
        A container of uncooked rice can save that phone. Just take it apart and remove the.battery.
        For some reason the last phone accident……GF said that rice is mine and only mine.

        1. uncooked rice saved my Blackberry when it landed in the loo. Did not take but 4 hours and the whole thing was perfect again!

  13. I remember being dehydrated multiple times over the years. I am a sweater, even in cold weather. In the summer it is much worse. I remember filling a gallon jug that was half ice and it being empty before lunch and still didn’t go #1 the whole time. Then the same in the afternoon and only using the bathroom in the evening. That was bailing season. Had to load and unload the wagons with only enough time to take a drink. Couldn’t just sit around in the shade since the wagons don’t load and unload themselves. So, during those days, I would drink more than 2 gallons each day at work and still get dehydrated. Sometimes I would add a Gatorade drink mix to get some salts. Helped a little, just had more salt stains on clothes than usual. I would get some migraines so bad that I could barely take a step at times.

  14. My DS, a life-long white water river guide, has a rule of thumb – if you’re thirsty you’re at least a quart low. She insists that her clients chug the entire quart. In a few minutes they feel much better even if they were unaware that they were getting dehydrated.

  15. Exertion at altitude can exacerbate dehydration. For two years I lived and worked at @ 9,000 ft. Dealt with folks pretty much daily who had just arrived for a short visit and were mostly ill-prepared to cope at that altitude. Hot days, cold windy evenings, nearly two miles less atmosphere offering protection from the sun, and dry, dry, dry.

    First thing, I’d walk them through the symptoms of dehydration, and heat exhaustion, and warn against any but very brief exposures to the sun (bad burns could happen quickly). These also happen to be initial symptoms of high altitude sickness which can lead to HACE (high altitude cerebral edema) and HAPE (high altitude pulmonary edema). One symptom folks frequently experienced was stomache ache. Advice to all was to consume good hydrating drinks constantly until their stomach hurt or felt distended. And at the onset of any symptoms to lie down. Symptoms that did not clear within a day with rest and heavy hydration led to a recommendation to get to a lower altitude asap.

  16. Hyper hydrosis and diabetes don’t mix. When working outside in above 85 degree heat and 70% humidity, I take a salt tablet every 4 hours Drink 16 oz of water every hour alternating between water and DripDrop or Gatorade . This is after I had heat exhaustion 2 summers ago. I researched long distance runners and learned I cannot physically intake enough fluid to replace the electrolytes and water I am losing through sweat. This is the method I have found keeps me mobile and without muscle cramps.

  17. Love the liquid IV stuff
    Have Gatorade packets too just in case
    Don’t forget old school “switchel” or “haymakers punch”
    they say it’s nature’s Gatorade
    In old farmer’s almanac
    1 gallon water
    1 & 1/2 cups molasses
    1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
    1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger

    I’ve seen substitute honey or maple syrup or raw/brown sugar for sweetener and squeezed in lemon or lime for extra zing

  18. NRP, I pulled the trigger on the Re-Lyte Hydration

    Pioneer Woman, I order some of the Liquid IV, gonna give it a try

    I checked them out and couldn’t decide which one was better, so I ordered both.

    1. Stand my Ground:
      Please let all know what you think.
      Dehydration is not a good thing for sure.
      Especially when chasing escapee Rabbits 😁

  19. 6/12/23. Temp was 95, humidity 48%, I drank 4 liters of water and 1 liter of ice tea. I did not get dizzy or have that heat headache today, but I took a LOT of rest breaks. Didn’t urinate much at all. Like I posted, got some better electrolytes coming.

    Tomorrow, with hurricane force winds coming, I’m gonna hill spuds. I just hope my plants are strong enough to withstand the wind.

    1. Yep, it’s summertime. Also, you often mention how windy it is in your AO. That will certainly accelerate evaporation of one’s hydration level. Additionally, if one is not urinating as one should, it is a big sign of being dehydrated..

  20. Re-Lyte Hydration Mix is a very popular electrolyte on amzn. I looked at the ingredients, and for those who don’t want the added sugar, this one looks quite good.

    2:1 sodium-potassium ratio along with other electrolytes.

    Sodium (810mg) Potassium (400mg) Chloride (1280mg) Calcium (60mg) Magnesium (50mg) Coconut Water Powder (80mg)

    Link -> Re-Lyte

  21. – In our part of west Texas right now we are running relative humidities of 70 – 85% most of the time. Our temps for the coming week are expected to be in the high 90’s or more.
    When working outside, I will typically take a two-liter GI canteen, fill it with good water then soak the carrier in tap water before hanging the whole mess in the shade from a head-high tree branch.
    With our typical 15-20 mph winds, that will give my canteen around about a 30-degree F temperature drop and I will try to get a good bit of water (a swallow or three) at least every 20 minutes to half-an-hour.
    I don’t have a great deal of problem with dehydration even when relative humidity drops to 15-20%.
    Powdered Gatorade is a nice break when plain water gets tiresome, just don’t put it in GI canteens as it is very to clean out properly. Same goes for hydration bladders. Especially in warm to hot weather, a contaminated water container will make you ill quickly.
    – Papa S.

    1. – Our Relative Humidity has been running higher than usual. You may have seen the flooding Highway on the national news the other day which is very near to Smurf village.
      All that water had to go somewhere.
      – Papa

  22. All,
    I have regularly attended 4 day trainings in the desert and other locations…those trainings were weapons, special tactics, etc……brutal conditions to be quite frank 120 degree plus where the ground we were traversing and rolling in was over 150! and with HOT weapons in our hands to boot. I swear by Liquid IV, and of course lots of plain water in between….MUST stay hydrated. I have witnessed first hand the cognitive malfunctions of folks who did NOT stay hydrated….it is a standing rule at all of our trainings, and my family fun to stay hydrated. Best!

  23. drink a minimum of half your body weight in ounces daily . if you weigh 100 pounds you drink 50 ounces . 150 pounds – 75 ounces . 200 pounds – 100 ounces .

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