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11 Severe Dehydration Symptoms in Seniors You Shouldn’t Ignore

Watch out for these severe dehydration symptoms in older adults!

Have you been drinking enough water? Severe dehydration occurs when your body loses many more fluids than it receives. We all need water for various processes, including eliminating waste, regulating temperature, and lubricating our joints.

And staying hydrated is extremely important as you get older. An older adult who’s dehydrated may be at a higher risk for complications like kidney problems, constipation, electrolyte imbalances, and loss of balance.

So, maintaining proper hydration is fundamental to keeping the body functioning optimally. For many of us, prioritizing drinking enough water throughout our day is a habit buried beneath the growing pile of health-conscious practices squeezed into our daily routines.

And despite knowing the significance of hydration, this has led us to find our bodies lacking enough water, leading to severe dehydration symptoms.

Fortunately, before reaching the upper limits of dehydration, there are several indications to tell if you’re not getting enough fluids.

And as always, Nutrition In USA has got your back. On that note, continue reading about 11 severe dehydration symptoms all seniors MUST watch out for!

Severe Dehydration Symptom
Photo by fizkes at Shutterstock

Dry mouth

Dehydration decreases saliva production. So if you suspect that someone is too dehydrated, pay attention to the inside of their mouth, according to doctors.

Their tongue should have a glisten to it. And in extreme cases, one of the severe dehydration symptoms you may notice is sores in the mouth that go along with not getting enough fluid.


If you’re constantly feeling thirsty, you’re probably already dehydrated, especially if you’re over 65. The amount of dehydration required for that sense of thirst to kick in will happen much later than when you were younger.

Physicians advise that even if seniors don’t feel this severe dehydration symptom, they should drink throughout the day. Try to aim for at least six 8-ounce glasses daily. That number goes up if you’re physically active.

Juices, noncaffeinated sodas, sports drinks, and flavored waters or seltzers also count toward your fluid intake. You can also increase your intake with foods containing a lot of water, including watermelon, soups, and cucumber.

Fatigue, confusion, or headache

Low blood flow because of dehydration can cause tiredness, headaches, and weakness. You may even feel a bit less sharp than usual. If you’re a caregiver for a person who seems confused, don’t rule out dehydration as the culprit.

Many things can cause this severe dehydration symptom. The senior might have an infection. But the root cause could also be that they’re dehydrated, and their blood pressure has plummeted. Occasionally, when we give them fluid, they’ll perk right back up like a flower.

Flushed skin

One of the earliest indications you’re not getting enough water can be this severe dehydration symptom. It’s a signal that the body needs more fluids. You can also get a sense of how dehydrated you are by folding or pinching your skin between the pads of your fingers.

If you pinch the skin on your hand or arm, it should quickly return to its normal appearance once you let it go. If the skin appears to stick together under the surface, it’s typically a sign that you’re severely dehydrated.

Muscle weakness or cramps

Another severe dehydration symptom is a feeling of weakness in specific muscles or having excruciating muscle cramps. The cramps can be caused by reduced blood flow to those muscles and electrolyte imbalances.

Cramps can happen while you’re exercising, or you might wake up in the middle of the night with cramping in your calf muscles. It can get bad enough that it won’t let you sleep through the night.

Severe Dehydration Symptom
Photo by Me dia at Shutterstock

Bad breath

If your body doesn’t get enough water, your tongue and mouth can begin to feel sticky or dry. Our bodies need plenty of water to make saliva, and when you’re experiencing this severe dehydration symptom, you produce less saliva.

This, in turn, also causes more bacteria to grow in your mouth, which ultimately leads to bad breath.

Dark urine

The more fluid in your body, the more transparent your urine will be. Your urine should be about the same color as tap water if you’re hydrated properly.

If it turns a brownish or dark yellow color or has a more pungent odor than average, that’s likely an early severe dehydration symptom, and you need to drink more water immediately.

Increased heart rate

Dehydration puts a huge strain on your heart. When dehydrated, the amount of blood circulating throughout your body drops.

This means the heart has to work double-time to pump blood everywhere in the body it needs to go, therefore increasing your heart rate, which may also cause you to feel palpitations.

Constipation or less frequent urination

Water helps flush the toxins in your body and keeps your digestive system running in proper order. If you’re sufficiently hydrating, you should be urinating every two or three hours and have regular bowel movements.

If you’re not going to the bathroom the usual number of times, that can be taken as a severe dehydration symptom.

Dizziness or fainting

Your brain is made up of over 70% water. So, if water levels are too low, your brain cells can’t function properly, leading to cognitive issues affecting concentration, alertness, and memory.

Studies have shown that when someone is dehydrated, the brain has raised neuronal activation when performing cognitively engaging tasks, meaning it’s working overtime to complete its usual tasks.

Even though dizziness can be a severe dehydration symptom, it can also indicate many other conditions. When dehydrated, you don’t get enough fluid to your blood vessels. You feel woozy because you’re not getting as much blood flow to the brain.

You’re most likely to feel dizzy when sitting up after lying or standing up suddenly. If the blood flow to your brain significantly drops, you might notice a darkness in front of your eyes. That may be a tell-tale sign you’re about to pass out from dehydration.

Dry skin or lack of skin elasticity

Dehydration can cause the skin to be dry and look sunken in certain areas, including under the eyes. Your skin will also have less elasticity than average.

If you care for someone frail, one way to tell if they are getting dehydrated is to press or pinch the skin on their arm gently. When you touch their skin, it might not spring back as easily as it once did. It can be very pronounced.

Severe Dehydration Symptom
Photo by fizkes at Shutterstock

How to prevent severe dehydration symptoms

Beyond simply avoiding these severe dehydration symptoms, keeping hydrated can produce many benefits for your body. These include improved cardiovascular health, increased energy, and maximized physical performance.

To ensure you’re meeting your hydration goals, here are some helpful tips:

-EAT your water: Many fruits and veggies are hydrating like beverages. In fact, some are even about 90% water. These include cucumber, cantaloupe, strawberries, celery, lettuce, other leafy greens, watermelon, zucchini, tomatoes, and bell peppers.

-Enhance your Water: Some people can’t stand drinking plain water because, well, it’s just too plain. So don’t be afraid to enhance your water with a couple of add-ins to make hydration easier. You can even try out different flavors by adding fresh herbs, fruits, vegetables, or even a few drops of your favorite healthy water enhancer. Here’s another idea!

-Track your Hydration: If you get into the habit of tracking severe dehydration symptoms, it can help keep you accountable and quickly identify times when you might be falling a bit short in this department. To track your hydration levels, phone apps can provide a fun and effortless way to track water intake and set reminders to ensure you’re getting the proper hydration.

Have you experienced any of these severe dehydration symptoms? If so, be sure to contact your doctor for help. And if you liked this article, we highly recommend also reading: 10 Delicious Cortisol-Lowering Foods Than Can Help Eliminate Belly Fat

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