Can Dehydration Cause Dizziness?

Hydration in the human body refers to fluid and water levels that help to keep the internal systems functioning. When the body does not have enough fluid or water, our internal systems from our brain to the muscles in the fingers and toes are weaker. 

Dehydration occurs when the body begins to lose fluid, and the body has less fluid inside than it takes in. This could result in a tired or fatigued state, or cause some serious illness or health problem. Additionally, dehydration can cause dizziness and a number of other symptoms that will interfere with our quality of life.

Dizziness caused by dehydration can be the most severe symptom of dehydration symptoms. Dehydration causes dizziness that can prevent you from working, driving, and performing a number of other necessary activities. 

The dizzy effect from dehydration can cause a serious problem, and even result in fainting or an unconscious spell. Dizziness due to dehydration can be prevented. If you suffer from this frequently, learn more about dehydration and dizziness, and how to prevent that here.

Understanding Dehydration

Water is among the most important components of the body. It is estimated that approximately 60 percent of the human body is composed of water. The brain and the heart are 73 percent water, the lungs have approximately 83 percent water, and the muscles and kidneys have over 79 percent water each. 

Even bones have water. Every part of the human body needs to be hydrated. When we lose fluid from our body, we lose it from important systems. We also lose function in these systems. Dehydration occurs when the body loses more water or fluid than it takes in.

So, for example, if you consume one glass of water a day only for several days and don’t eat anything at all, you will become dehydrated. Your body will lose fluid through urinary output, sweating, and maybe other things like vomiting or diarrhea.

Dehydration occurs when the input and output of fluid in and to the human body do not match. When the fluid content in your body goes down, the homeostatic balance of your human system is off. Everything that you do with your body will experience lower degrees of functionality.

The most common causes of dehydration are sweating, an illness that includes fever and vomiting, and simply not having enough fluid in our diets and daily lives. If you are ill and lose fluids due to sweating or vomiting, you could become dehydrated. If you exercise on a hot day and don’t hydrate as you do so with water or other fluids, you could become dehydrated. There are many different causes of dehydration.

Among the most serious symptoms of dehydration is dizziness. Dizziness can interfere with your life and result in loss of consciousness. If you are driving or performing activities with machinery when dehydration causes dizziness, dehydration can result in a serious and fatal problem. 

Additionally, other internal systems could shut down with dizziness and dehydration. This could result in kidney failure, stroke, and a number of other serious problems. When you understand the symptoms of dehydration, preventing dehydration can become part of a wellness routine for you and your entire family.

Symptoms of Dehydration

There are many different symptoms and signs of dehydration that indicate dehydration. Dizziness is among the most common signs of dehydration. Hydration may be checked first when someone is experiencing extreme dizziness out of the blue. There are also warning signs of dehydration.

In most cases, you will probably know if you may be at risk for dehydration. If you have been sweating a lot in the sun or been very ill, you are likely to experience the earliest signs of it.

  • Thirsty
  • Dry mouth
  • Fatigue
  • Fewer urination attempts throughout the day

Fluid loss of any amount can result in dehydration. Even low levels of fluid loss can lead to dehydration.

The more serious symptoms of dehydration include:

  • Parched tongue
  • Cracked lips
  • Inability to produce tears when crying
  • Wrinkled skin
  • Deep breathing
  • Cool hands and feet
  • Headache
  • Dizziness that ranges from lightheadedness to severe
  • Appetite loss
  • Increase in heart rate
  • Constipation
  • Darker urine

Because dehydration can cause dizziness, it can become a serious issue. If you are worried that you may be dehydrated, take the steps to prevent dehydration.

a graphic depiction of hydration to fight dizziness

Link Between Dehydration and Dizziness

There is a definite link between dehydration and dizziness. That is because every one of our internal systems depends on water to function to keep us healthy and alive. One of the first impacts on the human body with dehydration is an impact on our circulatory system. This is the system that controls our blood flow which brings blood to every organ, including the heart and the brain. Blood is composed of water. When we lose water, we have less water going through our veins and arteries to and from necessary organs in our body.

That is going to cause the problem of dizziness. Lower fluid levels in the body will first result in lower blood pressure because the circulatory system is moving at slower speeds. Lower blood pressure will show up as dizziness on many occasions.

At the same time, when your brain does not get the blood and fluid that it needs to function properly, it will begin to feel tired and work slower. Dizziness can also be caused here. The lightheadedness you may feel when you are dehydrated can be caused by your brain not getting enough fluid.

Effects of Dehydration on the Body

The effects of dehydration on the body are serious. Every part of our body, including our skin, is composed of some water levels. With almost 80 percent of our body being water, it stands to reason that any fluid loss could be seriously detrimental to our everyday life. Water is needed for every bodily function, even the ones that you do not know are happening.

Water in the body helps us to do a lot of things with the body. That includes:

  • Digesting food
  • Removing waste products
  • Moving our joints and bones
  • Producing saliva needed for digestion
  • Hormonal balance
  • Oxygen delivery to every bodily component
  • Shock absorber during pregnancy
  • Delivery of essential fluids and nutrients to a growing human during pregnancy

When we lose water or fluid from our bodies, we are at risk of a number of problems. Dizziness and dizziness-related complications are some of those problems.

You could also experience electrolyte imbalances that impair cognitive function and the ability to think clearly during the day. Heatstroke can also be caused by even mild forms of dehydration. The kidneys also function heavily on water because this organ helps to remove toxins from the body and remove human waste. 

When water loss occurs here, you could experience kidney stones or even kidney failure. Severe and prolonged dehydration can clinical shock to the body, unconsciousness that results in coma, and even death if left unattended.

When the body loses blood pressure, it also loses its ability to bring oxygen to the brain. Dizziness is not the only problem then. You increase your risk of stroke or seizure through electrolyte imbalance and more. When you begin to notice the first signs of dehydration, begin hydrating or ask for help in hydrating.

Preventing Dehydration-Induced Dizziness

When you are asking, can dehydration produce dizziness, the answer is yes. If dehydration is caused by fluid imbalances, it would stand to reason that this is a fairly preventable problem then. It can be in most healthy children and adults. However, if dehydration happens frequently, there are things that you can implement into your daily life to prevent dehydration.

Maintaining proper hydration levels can be accomplished by keeping yourself and your children or elderly family members hydrated throughout the day. Keep water or drinks on hand regularly. This can be any fluid that contains water. Most of the things that we drink every day have water as a key ingredient, and even most of the things that we eat do as well. Eat and drink water regularly. Coffee, tea, juice, and water are all ideal choices of beverages.

Most experts can not agree on a single recommendation or guideline for suggested water intake daily, because every human is different. The amount of fluid that you will need to take in will depend on your age, gender, and overall health. Some people need more water than others. The larger you are, the more water you will need. Overall, the general guideline is 8 glasses of water a day.

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine notes that women should consume 91 ounces or 10 measuring cups of water or fluids daily. Men should consume 125 ounces or 15 measuring cups of water daily.

Drinking water is important in every part of the world. If drinking water is something that is hard for you, add things to your water that you will like. Adding fruit, flavoring, or juice can help you to intake the amount of fluid that you need.

Adding fresh produce to your daily diet will also help you to maintain proper fluid levels. Eating fresh fruit for a snack instead of packaged foods will keep you hydrated. Bringing fresh vegetables into your other meals will also help to keep you hydrated. Fruits that contain high levels of fluid include watermelon, cantaloupes, citrus fruits like oranges, and strawberries. Lettuce, celery, and cabbage in the vegetable family have the highest amount of water.

Practice habits like sipping fluid in between phone calls, while you are watching television, and during your meal. Get into the habit of consuming more fluid. This will help you to prevent dehydration that causes dizziness and dizziness due to dehydration.

Hydration Best Practices for Specific Scenarios

There are many life scenarios or activities that can result in dehydration. Hot weather, humid climates, and strenuous exercise either indoors or outdoors will cause dehydration if you are not paying attention. Illness will as well. When you are sick, hot, or exercising, your body will sweat. This will result in dehydration if you do not stay hydrated.

When you are working out, playing sports, or exercising, drink water before, during, and after the activity. Even if you are taking a walk, bring a water bottle to stay hydrated and maintain fluid levels during the walk.

The same applies or hot climates. If you are going to be outdoors in humid weather, drink water whenever you can, and take it with you when you are outside if you can. If you can not, do not perform strenuous activity outside.

These tips are even more important if you are young, or elderly. As we age, our fluid levels in the body decrease. Dehydration can happen faster with the elderly. With children, dehydration can occur quickly because they are less able to hydrate themselves. Keep an eye on your elderly family members and children and ensure they have something to drink at all times.

Prevent Dehydration

Can dehydration cause dizziness? Yes, it can. It can be difficult to point to dehydration if you are dizzy or experience dizziness. If you know you have not consumed enough fluids that day or in the last few days prior to the dizziness, then you may be dehydrated when you feel dizzy. 

Drinking water helps to maintain the fluid balance in your body so that your body can function in optimum conditions. Maintain fluid balances in your body with proper nutrition and lifestyle habits if you live in warm climates or exercise regularly. Keep water on hand at all times to prevent dizziness caused by dehydration.

Sean Byers, MD

Sean Byers, MD

Sean Byers is currently a Resident in the Internal Medicine program at UTMB. He studied at the University of Queensland School of Medicine as well as received his Master’s in Public Health with a focus in epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of Southern California. His background is in biology, computer science, public health, and internal medicine.

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