How to Know You’re Dehydrated (Before You’re Thirsty)

June 24, 2021

Staying hydrated seems simple. When you’re thirsty, just drink some water and you should be fine, right? It actually turns out that following our thirst isn’t all that reliable—by the time you’re thirsty, you may have already lost 1 to 2 percent of your body’s water content, which is just enough dehydration to start noticing negative side effects. If your thirst hasn’t caught up with you yet, here are some other signs that you could be dehydrated:


Besides thirst, one of the first signs of dehydration is a headache. Although a dehydration headache can feel different for everyone, many people describe it as a pulsing ache at both temples that gets worse with physical activity. Bending down, moving your head or walking around can make the pain spike. 

Luckily, if you don’t have painkillers on hand, drinking a tall glass of water can often help the pain subside. Drink slowly and continue to hydrate until the headache is gone. 


If you’re tired throughout the day, even after your morning coffee, you may be chronically dehydrated. Drinking water alongside your cup of coffee or tea and continuing to drink steadily throughout the day can help you stay energized longer. 

You might also notice dehydration-related fatigue when trying to work out. When you’re feeling a little off your game, it could be because you didn’t drink enough water beforehand. Make sure you always prepare for your workouts with good hydration.

Muscle Cramps

Muscle cramps are another common sign that you haven’t hydrated enough before your workout. They’re also a warning sign for dehydration-related heat illness. Our bodies sweat to cool off, but if you aren’t hydrated, your body may not produce enough sweat to adequately cool your muscles. As a result, your muscles can overheat and seize up. 

If you feel those telltale cramps while exercising, it’s time to slow down and replenish your fluids! 

Sugar Cravings

Maybe you have a sweet tooth, or maybe you’re actually thirsty. Our liver needs water to perform its important function of releasing stored glucose (a simple sugar that gives our body energy) into the bloodstream. When you’re dehydrated, your body may respond to low glucose levels by craving sugar, when actually you just need water to break down the sugars your body already has stored.

So instead of reaching for a soda, try drinking a glass of water. You might find that your sugar cravings disappear! 

Signs of Dehydration in Kids

As temperatures rise and kids are spending more time outdoors this summer, it’s important to keep tabs on children’s hydration too—they may not always tell you when they’re thirsty if they’re in the middle of a sports game or playing with friends. Here are easy-to-spot signs that your kids need to pause their play for a water break: 21-PRMO-0082_Blogs_June#2_259x259_2

  • Dry, sticky mouth or tongue
  • No tears when crying
  • Cool and dry skin, even after activity
  • Sunken eyes or cheeks
  • Irritability or excessive fatigue
  • In infants, no wet diapers for three hours and/or a sunken spot on the top of head

It’s easy to stay on top of the whole family’s hydration with bulk drinking water from a Primo dispenser. Bulk water users drink up to 25% more water than non-bulk water users, so they’re less likely to feel the effects of dehydration. Take your first step toward healthier hydration today by joining the Primo lifestyle.