Health & Wellness

Beat the Heat! 7 Home Remedies for Dehydration

Because I live in Arizona, where it can become dangerously hot, I’m very careful about making sure my family and I stay hydrated. But even if you don’t live somewhere that gets as hot as it does where I live, you still want to take steps to be sure you are getting enough healthy fluids. Learning some easy home remedies for dehydration can be a good start.

Dehydration can range from mild and uncomfortable to severe and life-threatening. I find that most of us in Arizona are usually mildly, chronically dehydrated. It’s almost impossible to keep up with the heat out here in the summer.

The signs of early dehydration are far more subtle than more significant cases. If you are feeling more fatigued when the heat hits, consider water as a solution before you reach for another cup of coffee!

I explain more below about why it’s so important to keep your body hydrated and the steps you can take to make sure you and your family get the fluids you need.

You’ll also find a list of FAQs to answer many of the questions my patients ask about dehydration. Plus, there are also some quick visual guides to signs and symptoms of dehydration and home remedies for dehydration (for mild dehydration).

 

What Is Dehydration?

Dehydration happens when your body uses or loses more water than it needs to function properly. If you’re unable to replace these fluids, you will become dehydrated. The range of dehydration levels is vast, from simply causing a generalized feel of “being off” to a medical emergency.

Certain conditions can make dehydration riskier. For example, spending a lot of time outside in the heat or playing sports can cause you to lose more fluids than you might normally.

And, while dehydration can happen to anyone, it is more dangerous for children and older adults. In children, the cause is often diarrhea or vomiting due to illness.

Older adults have a lower volume of water in their bodies, which puts them at greater risk for dehydration. As a result, they might become dehydrated due to health conditions, illnesses, or medications.

Dehydration remedies can help you replenish fluids and recover if you are only mildly dehydrated. Cases of severe dehydration can be deadly and require medical attention. Read more below to learn more about the signs of dehydration, plus some easy ways to make sure you and your family stay hydrated. 

  

13 FAQs about Dehydration

1. How long does it take to rehydrate?

If you are experiencing mild dehydration symptoms, recovering from dehydration may occur within a few hours after taking steps to rehydrate. If your dehydration is moderate to severe, recovery may take several days or longer and even require hospitalization.

If you are mildly, chronically dehydrated, it may take a week or so of regular water use to notice the changes. Stick with it! As soon as you start forgetting that extra water, the symptoms will likely return.

2. What are the signs of chronic, mild dehydration?

I find mild dehydration to be the cause of many health concerns. Just a small deficiency of your water requirement each day can result in symptoms of fatigue, trouble sleeping, twitching or sore muscles, stuffy head and other allergy symptoms, blood pressure changes, mild headaches, menstrual cramping and changes in flow, increased hunger (it’s actually the body craving water, but we interpret it as a need for food), and mental fogginess. 

3. What are the symptoms of heat exhaustion?

Symptoms of heat exhaustion include an internal temperature of up to 104 F, plus extreme thirst, nausea, vomiting, muscle cramps, and dizziness. Heat exhaustion can lead to heat stroke, which is a dangerous medical emergency and can be deadly. The distinction between heat stroke vs. heat exhaustion can sometimes be unclear.

If you notice signs of heat exhaustion, go inside or move to a shaded area. Remove any unnecessary or excess clothing. Drink some water. Spray yourself with cool water or take a cool shower or bath. If signs or symptoms include shallow breathing, confusion, behavioral changes, or unconsciousness, get medical help right away.

4. How long does it take to recover from heat exhaustion?

Recovery from heat exhaustion usually begins about 15 minutes after taking measures to treat symptoms (see above). Full recovery may take a few days. If you don’t see improvement in symptoms, get medical help immediately to avoid a heat stroke. [1]

5. Can dehydration cause headaches?

Yes, headaches are one of the mild dehydration symptoms you could experience.

This can also include migraine headaches. [2]

Dehydration signs and symptoms - Dr. Pingel

6. Can dehydration cause high blood pressure?

Dehydration can actually cause both low blood pressure and high blood pressure!  In the early stages of dehydration (mild, chronically dehydrated), the body changes the way it retains electrolytes, such as sodium. The body also tries to adapt to low hydration by diverting blood from smaller capillaries to send blood supply to vital organs.

If you have a mild blood pressure elevation, it is also a good idea to assess hydration levels, particularly if your sodium levels are getting higher on routine lab work. You may not need that medication after all. Water may be a key component to healing!

Alternatively, when you become more severely dehydrated, your blood volume lowers (known as hypovolemia) because your body doesn’t have any fluids. The lower blood volume then causes low blood pressure. [3] If blood volume becomes too low, there is also a risk of hypovolemic shock, which is a medical emergency.

7. Does dehydration cause diarrhea?

The reverse is actually true in this cause: It is ongoing or severe diarrhea that can lead to dehydration, rather than the other way around. Diarrhea may be more of a risk factor for dehydration in children, especially if they are sick with a stomach virus or other illness. Be sure your child is getting enough fluids. [4]

8. Does dehydration cause nausea and vomiting?

Nausea and vomiting can be symptoms of dehydration. Vomiting, usually due to illness, can also be a cause of dehydration. [5]

9. Can dehydration cause dizziness?

Dizziness can be a sign of dehydration. Because severe dehydration causes low blood pressure, your brain doesn’t get the nutrients it needs, which can cause you to feel lightheaded or dizzy. [6] In mild cases of dehydration, your head may feel “fuzzy” or “foggy”. Often times my patients report that they feel congested or like they have a head cold, but its actually mild dehydration!

10. Can dehydration cause chest pain?

Staying hydrated is important for your heart health because dehydration can strain your heart. Chest pain may occur as a sign of severe dehydration. It can also indicate a heart attack. Get medical help right away if you are dehydrated and experiencing chest pain. [7] If you have heart disease, be sure to limit your activity level, especially during the hottest hours of the day, and follow your healthcare provider’s medical advice.

11. Does dehydration cause fever?

Fever is more likely to be a cause of dehydration rather than a symptom. A fever may cause dehydration, especially if it is accompanied by other symptoms such as vomiting or diarrhea. [8]

12. Can dehydration cause kidney pain?

Dehydration can affect your kidneys and cause kidney pain. In fact, severe dehydration can cause kidney damage. Pain due to dehydrated kidneys and other kinds of kidney pain might feel like a dull ache along your right or left flank.

Your kidneys play an important role in removing wastes from the body. Without enough water, your body can’t properly eliminate waste from the body. Dehydration can also cause kidney stones and urinary tract infections (UTI), which can lead to kidney damage. [9]

Pay attention to the color of your urine. If it is continually darker yellow, consider dehydration and add more water to take the strain off your kidneys! (It is common for your urine to be darker yellow in color first thing in the morning. Once you start drinking water for the day, it should become lighter and clearer.)

13. Can dehydration cause blood in urine?

Mild dehydration may cause your urine to turn a dark yellow or amber color. If you are severely dehydrated, urine can turn dark orange or brown or become scant. If you are dehydrated and your urine has become very dark or you are unable to urinate, take steps to cool down and hydrate immediately and get medical help.

Blood in the urine is usually due to another cause—anything from a UTI or kidney stone to more serious issues—and requires further medical observation and diagnosis. [10]

Signs of Dehydration in Kids

Signs of dehydration in kids are similar to those in adults. To help your kids stay hydrated, be sure that they drink plenty of cool water both before they go outside to play and while they are outdoors.

How much water should a child drink?

The recommended amount of water for a child is 7 cups of cold water per day for a child of 4 to 8 years old; 9 to 10 cups per day for kids 9 to 13 years old; and 10 cups per day for girls ages 14 to 18 and 14 cups per day for boys in the same age range. [11, 12]

Below are some signs of significant dehydration in toddlers and small children, as well as some signs of dehydration in infants. [13]

Signs of significant dehydration in children and babies:

  • Sunken eyes
  • Dry lips and tongue
  • Dry, wrinkled skin
  • Crying but not shedding tears
  • Sunken fontanelle (soft spot) on baby’s head
  • Fewer wet diapers (less than six per day for an infant or no wet diapers in eight hours for a toddler)
  • Deep and rapid breathing
  • Cool and red hands and feet

7 easy tips to stay hydrated - Dr. Pingel

Home Remedies for Dehydration: 7 Easy Tips to Stay Hydrated

Here are seven easy home remedies for dehydration. Try using a combination of these tips throughout the day to stay hydrated.

1. Drink enough water.

Drinking water is definitely number one when it comes to home remedies for dehydration. By the time you start feeling dehydrated, you usually need to replenish a lot of fluids. Make sure you continue drinking fluids—especially plenty of cool water, throughout the day—to avoid dehydration. In general, women need to drink about 9 cups of fluids each day and men need to drink about 12 cups. However, this amount may vary based on your activity level, especially if you are outside in hot, humid weather. Amounts for children are lower; see “Signs of Dehydration in Kids” above for more details. [14]

My rule of thumb is to drink half your body weight in ounces per day for normal daily function. So, a person who weighs 150 pounds needs at least 75 ounces daily, without added exertion, and in cool areas. If you live in a hot area or exercise daily, you need to increase this amount accordingly. Also, if you tend to drink a lot of coffee or other caffeinated drinks, add 8 ounces of water for each one you consume!

2. Eat some watermelon, grapefruit, or grapes.

Consuming foods with high water content can help you stay hydrated. You can also try cucumbers, celery, green lettuces, zucchini, cauliflower, and strawberries. Not only will these fruits and veggies help you stay hydrated, but they are also filled with lots of important nutrients to keep your body healthy. In fact, eating a plant-based diet can also help ensure that you consume plenty of these water-rich foods. [15, 16]

3. Enjoy a glass of coconut water.

While water is still the beverage of choice to stay hydrated, if you don’t like to drink water, you may want to try coconut water. Coconut water is a healthier version of sports drinks because it helps your body to replenish electrolytes without all the added sugar. It does contain sodium, so if you are watching your sodium intake, coconut water may not be for you. [17]

Another tip to try is to muddle fresh berries, citrus or cucumber into your water. This makes for a nice change in taste while not compromising your water intake.

4. Limit time spent in the sun.

Plan to spend time outdoors either early in the morning or in the evening to avoid the hottest times of the day (between about 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.).

5. Cut back on outdoor activities and sports.

High levels of activity outdoors, especially in extreme heat, can cause heavy sweating and dehydration and lead to heat exhaustion or even what’s known as an exertional heatstroke. [18]

6. Enjoy a popsicle.

This is definitely one of the most fun home remedies for dehydration! Whether you buy some low-sugar fruit popsicles or try out my delicious homemade popsicle recipe, these fun summer treats can be a great way to cool off and stay hydrated. This is a great option for kids who fight you on water drinking!

7. Have a smoothie.

A smoothie is an easy way to stay hydrated by combining some water-rich fruits and veggies into a delicious and nutritious beverage. Blend together a cup of your favorite whole fruits, almond milk (or another nut milk) or coconut milk, and some almond butter or avocado.

Fruit options might include strawberries, cantaloupe, peaches, or berries like blueberries or raspberries. Bananas are also a great addition because they are high in potassium, an important electrolyte your body needs. You could also add in some cucumber, carrots, or spinach (Trust me— they will not notice the veggie addition!).

 

Key Takeaways

  • Dehydration happens when your body uses or loses more water than it needs to function properly.
  • Drinking enough fluids, especially water, is key to avoiding dehydration.
  • Try some home remedies for dehydration to help you replenish fluids and recover if you are mildly dehydrated. Cases of severe dehydration can be deadly and require medical attention.

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