Despite the common suggestion that we should drink eight glasses of water per day, there is no scientific evidence to support this claim. Each person’s hydration needs vary based on exercise, climate, and overall health.
Instead of focusing on a specific amount of liquid to drink, it’s easier and better to pay attention to your body’s cues and adjust your water intake accordingly.
Thirst is a good indicator that you need to drink more fluids, but you may already be mildly dehydrated by the time you feel thirsty.
Another helpful way to gauge your hydration levels is by checking the color of your urine.
If your pee is without any apparent color, this is a good sign that you’re well-hydrated.
You may even be a little bit over-hydrated, especially if you find yourself running to the bathroom more frequently than usual. While rare, it is possible to drink too much water. Water intoxication dilutes the electrolytes in your bloodstream, leading to headache, nausea, and in extreme cases, coma or death.
When you notice your urine is clear, limit your water intake to small sips until your next bathroom break.
Light Yellow Urine
A urine color that is light or pale yellow like lemonade is also a good sign of hydration.
This indicates that your kidneys are filtering out wastes and excess fluid from your body. The yellow color is due to a pigment called urochrome, which is produced when the kidneys break down hemoglobin from red blood cells.
If your pee is consistently light yellow, you’re probably at a healthy hydration level, and you should continue drinking fluids at your standard rate.
Yellow or Amber-Colored Urine
As your body becomes dehydrated, your urine will become darker in color.
This is because your body is working to retain and reabsorb more water to prevent dehydration. This leads to a relatively higher concentration of urochrome and other wastes in your urine, giving it a darker color.
When your urine is a darker yellow, amber, or honey-colored, it’s a sign that you need to drink more fluids. It’s not yet a medical emergency, but you should drink more fluids before it worsens and becomes a more serious concern.
Orange or Brown Urine
At this point, you’re severely dehydrated and at risk for more serious complications.
When your urine is this dark, it’s important to see a doctor as soon as possible. Brown urine may also be a sign of liver or kidney problems, so it’s important to get a diagnosis from a medical professional.
Certain medications can also cause strange-colored urine, so be sure to mention any medications you’re taking to your doctor.
If you have red or dark-brown urine and are experiencing other symptoms like fatigue, nausea, pain in your abdomen, dizziness, or confusion, you should seek medical attention immediately.
Dehydration is a severe medical condition that can cause many complications, so it’s essential to be aware of the signs and symptoms. If you think you may be dehydrated, drink more fluids and see a doctor if symptoms don’t improve.