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Recognizing the signs of dehydration

Dehydration occurs when the body eliminates too much water and mineral salts, which are essential for the body to function properly. This situation can arise when, for example, a person has a fever or has gastroenteritis.

Mild dehydration

Watch for signs of mild dehydration:

  • Mouth, lips and tongue are a little drier than usual
  • Feeling thirstier than usual
  • Less frequent urination

Moderate dehydration

Watch for signs of moderate dehydration:

  • Dry mouth
  • Infrequent or dark urine
  • Reduction in activities
  • Drowsiness, irritability

Severe dehydration

Watch for signs of severe dehydration:

  • Absence of urine for a period of six hours in babies and for over eight hours in older children and adults
  • Sunken fontanels (soft spots on babies’ heads)
  • Cold, bluish skin that doesn’t bounce back when gently pinched
  • Irritability, drowsiness
  • Extreme thirst
  • Faster breathing
  • Absence of tears
  • Dizziness, confusion and headache
  • Vertigo or fainting (associated with a drop in blood pressure), especially while standing in adults


If you present signs of dehydration, it is important to hydrate yourself and replenish your mineral salts. You need to drink more liquid, such as water, or a rehydration solution. Don’t hesitate to seek advice from a pharmacist or call Info-Santé 811, option 1.

If you or your child presents signs of moderate to severe dehydration, you must go to the emergency department immediately.

Last update: February 23, 2023


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