What are the key signs and symptoms of dehydration?
There are a handful of key factors that can contribute to dehydration, including environmental conditions (heat and humidity), physical activity, health conditions or illnesses, and diet. But no matter what the cause of dehydration is, the signs and symptoms that workers need to watch for remain the same.
Mild to moderate dehydration makes workers lose strength and stamina and is a key contributor to heat exhaustion. It’s easily reversible by consuming fluids or, in higher-stress, higher-heat environments, electrolyte drinks. The signs and symptoms of mild to moderate dehydration include:
- Excessive thirst
- Feeling dizzy or lightheaded
- Fatigue or drowsiness
- Dry mouth, lips, and eyes
- Dark yellow urine
- Infrequent urination (fewer than four times per day)
As dehydration progresses, it becomes more severe and turns into a medical emergency that requires immediate attention from a medical professional. The signs and symptoms that indicate severe dehydration include:
- Dry skin that remains "tented" when pinched
- Inability to urinate or not urinating for eight hours
- Sunken eyes
- Weak pulse and rapid heartbeat
- Cool hands and feet
- Feeling drowsy, disoriented, and irritated
- Blood in feces or vomit
It's important to keep an eye out for early symptoms of dehydration while they can still be easily reversed in order to avoid the serious consequences of severe dehydration. In the workplace, dehydration can have serious consequences in terms of worker health and safety; ensuring proper hydration can be considered a form of PPE! In hot environments that involve physical work, electrolyte drinks are the best way to ensure optimal hydration - and worker health and safety.
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