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CHART: Are You Dehydrated?

How do you know if you’re dehydrated? You might say thirst, right? Almost everyone associates thirst with a need to drink more water. In certain cases, though, thirst isn’t the most reliable indicator of hydration status.

For instance, with age, the thirst response decreases. Therefore, adults over 50 are more likely not to experience thirst as intensely as younger people. Plus, exercise and fatigue or stress may also contribute to a diminished thirst response, and children also experience thirst less intensely than adults.

Fortunately, our bodies signal hydration another way as well.

Urine color says a lot about our hydration status. Generally, the lighter the color, the more hydrated you are. But why is that? Well, dehydration is caused when the volume of water in the body is depleted. And when we’re dehydrated, our kidneys, which filter waste, tell the body to retain water. Therefore, we have less water in our urine, which causes it to become more concentrated and darker.

What Does Urine Color Say About Your Hydration?

This chart can help you determine if you’re hydrated. It starts with normal, well-hydrated colors. But as you move down the list, dehydration becomes more severe; below the red line indicates dehydration.
What Color? Are You Hydrated?
Pale yellow to clear is normal and indicates that you’re well-hydrated.
Light yellow and transparent is also normal and indicates an ideal hydration status.
A pale honey, transparent color indicates normal hydration, but it may mean that you need to rehydrate soon.
A yellow, more cloudy color means your body need water.
A darker yellow, amber color isn’t healthy. Your body needs water.
Orangish yellow and darker: You’re severely dehydrated. Contact your doctor immediately.
 

Understand the Symptoms of Dehydration

Recognizing colors can be a helpful indicator, especially if you notice the change in color while other symptoms of dehydration are present. Dehydration symptoms include:
  • Thirst
  • Dry mouth, dry nose
  • Fewer trips to the bathroom
  • Headache
  • Light-headedness
  • Muscle Cramps
  • Irritability/Confusion
Of course, abnormal urine color may indicate a health issue other than dehydration. Talk to your doctor if you’re experiencing abnormal urine color.
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