CPR First Aid

Signs and Symptoms of Severe Dehydration

Signs and Symptoms of Severe Dehydration

Did you know that more than two billion people around the world don’t have access to clean water? That’s almost one-third of the population! In fact, many people die each year from dehydration. Dehydration is a serious condition that can lead to death if not treated properly. In this blog post, we will discuss the signs and symptoms of severe dehydration. If you think someone might be suffering from dehydration, it is important to seek medical attention immediately!

Cases of Dehydration in Australia

According to The Courier Mail, 80% of Australians suffer the effects of dehydration. The research also showed that less than one in 10 Australians (6%) associate problems with concentration and mental impairment with dehydration, despite it being a common symptom for most (56%).

Widely believed myths around water consumption are exasperating the situation with half of Aussies (49%) falsely believing they should drink two litres of water a day to stay hydrated. A further 20% believe drinking water when they are thirsty keeps them hydrated, not realising the effects of dehydration have already set in by that stage.

Kids are most at risk and the majority of parents (78%) want their children to drink more water

Signs and Symptoms of Severe Dehydration

According to GoHealth, fluid loss worsens from one being mild to moderately to severely dehydrated, it can lead to signs of mental and physical decline that will need immediate action for reversal. If symptoms of severe dehydration are concerning enough, they may also require the assistance of a medical professional.

1. Not Urinating or Very Dark Urine

An easy way to test and see if you’re dehydrated is by checking the colour of your urine. Normal urine should be pale yellow in colour, like lemonade. If your urine is a darker colour, similar to apple juice, this could be a sign of moderate to severe dehydration. Not urinating at all? You’re most likely severely dehydrated.

What to do: Should you find your urine is a dark yellow, be sure to start drinking more water immediately. It’s best to take small sips of water your body can properly absorb, rather than gulping down glass after glass of water that your kidneys will expel. If you feel you’re not getting enough fluids on a regular basis, consider taking a large water bottle with you to drink throughout the day—at work, in the car and on the go.

2. Dry Skin That Doesn’t Bounce Back When Pinched

Checking the colour of your urine is not the only quick test you can perform to determine if you’re dehydrated. A person’s skin elasticity is also telling. Try this: Pinch the skin on the top of your hand and see what happens. If it moves back slowly, this is an indication that you’re mild to moderately dehydrated. If the skin seems to stick together (i.e., it “tents”), this is a sign of severe dehydration.

Like with darker urine, you should increase your water intake and drink fluids if you’re experiencing mild to moderate dehydration. While a glass of water is a good “go-to,” if you’ve just finished a strenuous workout, you can also try a sports drink or coconut water. If you are severely dehydrated and your skin tents, you may have to visit a healthcare provider who can help treat dehydration.

3. Rapid Heartbeat and Breathing

It’s natural to have an increased heart rate and rapid breathing while exercising. But if your symptoms don’t go away once you’ve cooled down—or you haven’t been working out and you experience these symptoms—it could be a sign of severe dehydration as depleted amounts of electrolytes can affect the heart’s ability to pump blood.

What to do:  Fluid intake is crucial for organs like your heart, liver, kidneys, and lungs to function properly. So, it’s important you visit a doctor for dehydration when you experience these symptoms. After a thorough examination, if a medical professional determines you are dehydrated, you’ll likely be hooked up to receive intravenous fluid containing a concentrate rehydration solution (water with salts and sugars like sodium chloride and potassium) for quick delivery of fluids to the thirstiest parts of your body.

4. Confusion, Dizziness or Lightheadedness

Did you know that your brain is composed of water? That’s why drinking water and eating water-filled foods can help your brain work better. On the flip side, if you don’t get enough fluids it can have adverse effects. If you’re feeling like you might pass out at any moment, or you’re confused over where you are, how you got there or what you’re doing, it might mean you are severely dehydrated.

What to do: Don’t take symptoms like these lightly. Properly rehydrate by slowing drinking water and eating cucumbers, watermelon, tomatoes, strawberries, apples, and grapes. Both options will help replenish your body with the minerals and electrolytes it needs to absorb into the brain and tissues. If you’re experiencing severe dehydration with confusion, you should go to the emergency room to be checked out by a healthcare provider.

5. Fever and Chills

Usually, we associate a fever and chills with having an illness like the flu or an. But don’t let this warning sign fool you. It’s also a dangerous sign of severe dehydration. When your body doesn’t have enough fluids, it’s hard to maintain a regular body temperature and this can lead to hyperthermia and fever-like symptoms including chills.

Stop any sport or strenuous activity you’re involved in immediately. The stress you’re placing on your body and its systems is making your symptoms worse. To treat dehydration at home, drink more fluids and either apply a cold compress to your face or take an ice bath to cool down. If your temperature doesn’t improve, or it reaches above 103° indicating severe dehydration in adults, go to the nearest emergency room. 

6. Unconsciousness

If you or someone you know is feeling lightheaded or hot due to a high body temperature, they might be on the brink of passing out. Unconsciousness results from several factors, including low blood pressure, dizziness, etc. When accompanied by other dehydration signs, this could be indicative of severe fluid loss.  

Unconsciousness is a red flag that your body is in dire need of water. Call 000 immediately if you’re around someone who passes out. They’ll need to be transported to the emergency room right away for dehydration treatment. Like with other serious signs of dehydration, you or the person affected will most likely receive rehydration therapy. You’ll be monitored by doctors to ensure you’re stable and your fluid levels have returned to normal before you’re released.

One last thing to note: When you’re severely dehydrated, it’s key to get fluids or water-filled foods into the body as quickly as possible. However, you don’t want to overdo it. It’s possible to drink too much water, resulting in a condition called hyponatremia. This is when sodium and electrolytes in the blood are so low that they can be life-threatening.

First Aid Courses

Severe dehydration can be prevented. Early detection of signs and symptoms will help you manage it. If you are interested in enrolling in a first aid course, contact CPR First Aid for more information.

CPR First aid courses and training are open to all since emergency situations such as severe dehydration can happen to all ages, anywhere in Australia.


Be informed and prevent severe dehydration. It’s very important to stay hydrated, it even has health benefits. Also, there are fruits and vegetables that could make you stay hydrated. These contain a lot of water that can keep you hydrated day in and day out. It also contains essential nutrients. Make sure that you get enough water each day, and nutritious fruits and vegetables. It’s one of the best things you can do for your overall health. 

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