Effects of Dehydration

Effects of dehydration during fall and winter

During the fall and winter months dehydration can easily occur. Drinking an adequate amount of water can be easily overlooked due to cooler days and decreased activity levels. Here are some signs to help identify if you or your child are feeling the effects of dehydration.

Mild/Moderate Dehydration

Can be treated at home with increased fluids and rest.


  • Chapped lips and a dry, sticky mouth
  • Sleepiness or tiredness (children are less active and playful, but still alert)
  • Urinating less than once every three hours for infants and less than once every six to eight hours for older teens and adults
  • Few tears when crying
  • Dry skin
  • Headache
  • Urine has a strong smell and is very yellow
  • Dizzy or lightheaded
  • Muscle cramps
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Weakness

Severe Dehydration

Immediate medical attention is required.

  • Very lethargic – Children are limp, inactive, make minimal eye contact, and do not respond to your voice or touch
  • Extreme thirst
  • Extreme unusual fussiness
  • Confusion and irritability
  • Lips chapped, inside of mouth is dry and sticky with no saliva
  • Little or no urination — any urine that is produced will be dark yellow or amber
  • No tears, eyes are dry and sunken in
  • No urination for twelve to eighteen hours
  • Rapid breathing & heartbeat
  • Dry skin that doesn’t “bounce back” when pressed or pinched

To avoid the effects of dehydration, make sure children are drinking approximately 1 ounce of water per pound of body weight and adults are drinking 1/2 ounce of water per pound of body weight. Urine should be almost clear and odorless.