Doctors' Notes

5 Surprising Signs of Dehydration

Welcome to Doctors’ Notes, our newest contribution from Urban Health correspondents and husband and wife physicians Dr. Rob and Dr. Karla Robinson.  The dynamic duo will be fielding questions about health, as it relates to African Americans.  Please feel free to send them questions via digitalpitches@ebony.comWe promise to keep it anonymous. 


As the temperatures rise and we begin to spend more time outside either in the garden, on the golf course, or any other outdoor activities, one thing we’ve got to guard against is dehydration. Dehydration is the most common heat-related illness and sends many to the emergency room each year.

Dehydration happens when your body loses more water than you take in from drinking and eating. It’s certainly normal for people to lose some water from their bodies every day—as in every time you visit the bathroom, or break a sweat— but some things can make people lose a lot of water, including excessive sweating, fever, vomiting, diarrhea, and medicines (diuretics). In these cases, you’ve got to be extra careful when dealing with the extreme heat to ensure that you don’t suffer the consequences of dehydration.

So what’s the big deal?

Dehydration is more than just feeling “thirsty.” Here is a list of the top 5 signs that you may be dealing with dehydration. If you see yourself in this list, don’t worry drink up! But just make sure it’s water! Water has plenty of health benefits attached to it and will help these symptoms related to dehydration disappear.

1) Headaches/Dizziness: When you’re dehydrated, your overall fluid status is decreased. This can lead to a common symptom of headache or dizziness especially when going from a seated to standing position. Additionally, mild dehydration can leave you having a hard time concentrating or feeling “foggy.”

2) Bad breath: Having a mouth filled with saliva is important in keep bacteria at bay. When dehydrated, the decreased saliva production can cause odor causing bacteria in the mouth to thrive. Instead of reaching for a mint, do yourself a favor and reach for a glass of water.

3) Dry skin: Contrary to popular belief, the best moisturizer for your skin is to drinking water. It’s always a good idea to hydrate from the inside out.

4) Muscle Cramps: Often, the first sign of dehydration when active, muscle cramps can be extremely painful. This is often the result of not only fluid loss, but electrolyte loss as well. When active, be sure to aggressively replace the fluids as they are lost.

5) More Accidents: Believe it or not, a recent study linked driving errors when dehydrated to driving errors while intoxicated. Research shows that the number of driving errors doubled during a two-hour drive when drivers were dehydrated—a stat primarily seen in cases of drunk driving. Instead of not drinking lots of fluids while traveling so you don’t have many potty breaks, you might want to think twice to avoid the increased risk of traffic accidents.

It’s a health thing…we’ve got to understand!

About the Doctors:

Dr. Karla and Dr. Rob are the founders of Urban Housecall, a multimedia health and wellness resource, and also hosts of the Urban Housecall Radio Show.  For more from the doctors, visit their website at, like them on Facebook, and follow them on Twitter @urbanhousecall!