Water makes up two-thirds of your body weight. So, saying that drinking enough fluids is crucial for your good is an understatement; become dehydrated, and your body will have difficulties carrying out vital processes such as oxygen delivery, food digestion, and body temperature regulation. Of course, you're familiar with this fact. But there's just one thing you're struggling with: how to tell if you are dehydrated (especially since dehydration can easily sneak up on you if you lead an active lifestyle or live in a hot, humid climate).
Does thirst signify dehydration? Or are there other things you should be watching out for? The short answer is this: no, experiencing thirst doesn't necessarily mean that you're dehydrated. As for the long answer? You'll have to continue reading. This article breaks down everything you need to know about dehydration – including what it is and a quick run-through of how you could conveniently and quickly test for dehydration at home.
So, what is dehydration? Your body is constantly losing fluids through bodily processes like peeing, sweating, plus the occasional vomiting and diarrhea (when you’re sick). Fail to replace these lost fluids, and you’re well on the way to dehydration: a pathological process when your body has lost – or used – more fluids than it took in.
A common misconception about dehydration is that it only involves fluid imbalance. In reality, though, as your body loses fluids, it also loses electrolytes. These are electrically charged minerals (e.g., sodium, potassium, and magnesium) in your blood and body fluids that affect how your muscles and nerves work.
Bottom line? Dehydration causes fluid and electrolyte imbalance in the body, in turn, potentially leading to dangerous symptoms like fainting, rapid heartbeat, and dizzy spells. But wait. What’s the difference between feeling thirsty and actual dehydration? To put it simply, thirst is a sign that your body could do with more water, but it isn’t necessarily synonymous with dehydration.
At this point, you may be thinking: okay, if I can’t trust thirst to be a reliable indicator of dehydration, what else is there? A visit to the lab – or your doctor?
How to check for dehydration at home
Hold up. There's no need for you to make a special trip down to a clinic. Instead, you can easily (and quickly) test for dehydration right at home. In fact, a body hydration test (or a body dehydration test) can take many forms. Here are 4 examples.
#1: Watch out for dehydration symptoms
Strictly speaking, watching out for symptoms isn’t a “hydration test” per se – but it’s an excellent place to start when you suspect that you're dehydrated. And also it is a great way to listen to your body! So, signs you may experience when your body needs more fluids include muscle cramps, dehydration headaches, heart palpitations, fatigue, dizziness, dry mouth, bad breath, and even confusion.
If you notice any of these symptoms (or, more worryingly, a combination of them), then it’s high time for you to get some water or an electrolyte into your system ASAP.
#2: Perform a skin turgor test
Decreased skin elasticity, or skin that doesn't "bounce back," is among the most prevalent symptoms of dehydration. Why? That’s because moisture is essential for the elasticity your skin needs to snap back. But how can you ascertain your skin’s “bounce factor”? Well, an easy way to do so is something called the “skin turgor test”.
Here’s how to do it: grab the skin on the back of your hand, pull it up, and let it go. Does your skin quickly snap back into place? If your skin stays tented or resumes its shape slowly, that’s a good sign that you’re dehydrated.
#3: Look at the color of your urine
You can also use your urine's appearance (and smell!) as a form of hydration test. See: your urine should be pale yellow with little to no odor when you're well-hydrated. But that changes when you're dehydrated. So, a simple urine test for dehydration involves you observing the color and smell of your urine. Is it darker colored than usual? Does it smell “off”?
#4: Use a urinary hydration test strip
For obvious reasons, relying on the sight and smell of your urine to tell if you’re dehydrated isn’t the most accurate measure. That means it could be challenging to judge if your urine output is normal for you (i.e., compared to your baseline). So, what's the solution here? There's one: use a urine strip to test for dehydration.
These urine test strips are made of special paper that can measure a sample's urine specific gravity (USG): the particle concentration in urine and the density of urine in comparison to the density of water.
Basically, how you'd use it is to immerse the urine strip in a sample of your urine or directly urinate on it – then compare its color to the test kit's accompanying color chart (note: you'd typically have to wait a while before comparing colors). This helps you determine your hydration status.
Are you curious about your water levels? Meet Vivoo! With Vivoo, you can now regularly check not only your water levels but also ketone, magnesium, and calcium among many others! Just urinate on the strip and scan to the app, you will get your results in just 90 seconds no need to send samples to the lab. That’s not it! After taking your test, the Vivoo App will give you personalized nutritional & lifestyle advice on how to improve your scores and your wellness!
Oh, and here’s a tip. If you always forget to drink water, drink on a “schedule”. Set an hourly alarm on your phone to remind yourself to hydrate. Finally, consider purchasing urine hydration test strips – like Vivoo’s – to stay in tune with your water status in real time.