How to Test for Dehydration?

March 17, 2023 5 minutes

Are you feeling thirsty? Dizzy? Headachey? Chances are, if you're experiencing any of those symptoms, you might be dehydrated. Dehydration is often overlooked and it can easily go undetected. But thankfully, there are several ways to test for dehydration, so it's easy to catch and treat. 

But what's the solution to this? Well, you’ll have to do something called the “Am I dehydrated?” test. In this blog post, we'll discuss how to test for dehydration and teach you how to take care of yourself if you're dehydrated. 

Why is knowing how to tell if you’re hydrated so important?

First things first. Why should you care about doing the “Am I dehydrated?” test? Easy: because dehydration is a serious health concern. About 60% (roughly two-thirds) of your body is made up of water; it's the major component to every single body part – including your bones! So, imaginably, staying well-hydrated is important for allowing your body to function properly.

How do you test for dehydration? 

Now, the only question that remains is this: just how, exactly, do you go about doing a dehydration test? A few symptoms can show up, read more below:

1. Bad breath

Cup your palm over your mouth and breathe out. How does your breath smell? If you dry-retched a little, well, you're likely dehydrated. To understand why, you should first know that saliva has bacteria-fighting properties. So, imagine what happens when you get dehydrated. Your saliva levels go down. Meaning? Your mouth's ability to fend off odor-causing germs may not be as efficient – explaining the resulting stink.

dehydration test

2. Low energy or fatigue

When you’re dehydrated, your body tries to pull fluid to more centrally located (i.e., more “life-crucial”) organs – like your heart and brain – by contracting your blood vessels. This cuts down on the blood supply that the rest of your body gets. And since blood is a carrier of oxygen and various nutrients (e.g., amino acids and glucose) necessary for normal bodily functions, like metabolism, you’ll feel sluggish and tired.

3. Headaches

The exact reason why dehydration causes headaches isn't known. That said, a prevailing theory is that dehydration could cause a slight, temporary brain contraction by "leaching" fluids from the cerebrospinal fluid (CBF), a watery fluid that surrounds it. This contraction may feel like someone is "squeezing" your brain – which, imaginably, can't be a great feeling. 

4. Muscle cramps

Here’s the thing about dehydration. You aren’t simply losing more fluids than are being replaced – but also electrolytes. These are positively charged minerals (e.g., sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium) that play a role in normal muscle contraction and relaxation. So, when you’re dehydrated, you may experience muscle cramps.

This dehydration symptom is particularly common post-exercise, especially if you’re a “salty sweater” (i.e., someone who tends to lose a lot of sodium through sweat).

 5. Skin turgor test

As mentioned earlier, when you're dehydrated, your body will shuttle fluids to all life-crucial organs – in turn, drawing water away from the "surface" of your skin. Thus, dehydration is often associated with shriveled and dry skin (i.e., skin lacking elasticity). But wait. How do you measure your skin's elasticity? Well, one quick and easy way is something called the "skin turgor test".

Use two fingers to grab the skin on the back of your hand, pull it up, then let it go. Observe how long it takes to snap back into place. If it’s almost immediate, you’re well-hydrated. But if it stays tented or resumes its shape slowly (say, more than a second), you’re probably dehydrated.


6. Dark and/or foul-smelling urine

Looking at – and smelling – your urine is one of the easiest ways to tell if you’re dehydrated. If your body is low on fluids, it’ll try to conserve whatever it has by releasing as little water as possible into your urine. For this reason, your urine’s concentration of waste products (e.g., sodium and urea) will increase; you also won’t pee very much. So, your urine will not only be darker in color but will also smell a little "off". That said, you shouldn't aim for completely clear urine – this is a sign of overhydration. Instead, when you're well-hydrated, your urine should be a pale yellow and have little to no odor. Anything else, and it's a sign of dehydration.

 7. Urine specific gravity strips

Admittedly, performing a “dehydration in urine” test simply based on the color and smell of your urine can be a tricky affair. That's where at-home urine test strips come in. A urine hydration test strip (also known as urinalysis dehydration test) gives you an objective measure of your hydration status by measuring your urine specific gravity value (i.e., the density of urine to that of water).

In other words: when you’re wondering, “Am I dehydrated?”, using a urine test strip is the most reliable method you could use to determine your hydration levels. 

Are you ready to check if you’re dehydrated?

Are you curious about your hydration levels but don’t know where to begin? Want to receive personalized nutritional recommendations based on real-time body data? Vivoo can help! Vivoo is an at-home urine test that gives real-time body data on 9 key wellness parameters like water, calcium, vitamin c, magnesium and so much more!It also provides personalized nutritional and lifestyle advice to improve your body's wellness. Dietitians, nutritionists, and doctors have provided all the advice on the App. Try Vivoo now!

It's worth saying again: the amount of water you need daily is unique to you based on factors like your diet, BMI, age, exercise, and whether you live in a hot, humid climate. That's why you must stay on top of your hydration status. If you're looking for a quick, convenient way to keep track of that, well, consider Vivoo. Stay hydrated, everyone! 

Read more: 

Can Dehydration Cause Abdominal Pain?

Why Does Alcohol Dehydrate You?

The Best Time To Drink Water

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