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Publication #FCS8847

Healthy Living: Are You at Risk for Dehydration?1

Linda B. Bobroff and Jennifer Hillan2

Older adults, especially women and those over 85, often are at increased risk for dehydration. Taking certain medications, not feeling thirsty, or having a health condition that makes it difficult to drink can contribute to dehydration. Some of these risk factors can be controlled, and some cannot. Answer the questions below to find out if you are at risk for dehydration, and if so, how you can decrease your risk!

Table 1. 

Risk factors and symptoms of dehydration.




I am older than 85 years.



I am female.



I have diabetes, urinary incontinence, or kidney disease.



I have frequent fevers, vomiting, or diarrhea.



I take laxatives, diuretics, or sedatives.



I drink less than six cups of fluids each day.



I often have dark yellow urine.



I have problems swallowing.



If you answered "YES" to any of the statements above, you’re likely dehydrated or at a high risk for becoming dehydrated. It’s important to prevent dehydration because it can lead to serious health problems. In severe cases, hospital treatment may be needed.

Drink small amounts of fluids throughout the day, even if you aren’t thirsty. Try water, carbonated water, 100% fruit juices, low-sodium soups and vegetable juices, diluted sports drinks, and low-fat or fat-free (skim) milk. Tea and coffee also can help you stay hydrated.

Figure 1. 

Water or club soda with lemon or lime is a refreshing drink.



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Figure 2. 

Contrary to popular belief, coffee and tea do contribute to hydration!



[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]



This document is FCS8847 (la versión en español de este documento es Vida Saludable: ¿Esta usted en riesgo de deshidratación? (FCS8847-Span)), one of a series of the Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date September 2007. Revised September 2009 and September 2013. Reviewed July 2017. Visit the EDIS website at


Linda B. Bobroff, RD, LD/N, professor; and Jennifer Hillan, MSH, RD, LD/N, former ENAFS nutrition educator; Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences; UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.

The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.