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List signs and symptoms of poor nutrition and hydration

This page is designed to answer the following questions:

NOTE: This page has been quality assured for 2021 as per our Quality Assurance policy.

There are several signs and symptoms that could indicate that an individual is malnourished (lacks nutrition) or dehydrated (has not received enough fluids). It is important that you are aware of them so that you are able to recognise if an individual is suffering due to a lack of hydration and/or nutrition.

Signs and symptoms of malnutrition

Signs and symptoms of malnutrition (where food intake does not have the right balance of nutrients) include:

  • increased/decreased weight
  • clothes/belts/jewellery no longer fitting correctly
  • little or no appetite
  • fatigue or tiredness
  • feeling weaker
  • frequently becoming ill and taking a long time to recover
  • wounds healing slower than expected
  • poor concentration
  • low mood or depression
  • feeling cold
  • increased number of falls
  • changes in behaviour

Signs and symptoms of dehydration

Signs and symptoms of dehydration (where the body loses more fluid than it takes in) include:

  • feeling thirsty
  • dark, strong-smelling urine
  • infrequent urination
  • fatigue or tiredness
  • feeling dizzy/lightheaded
  • headaches
  • dry mouth, lips and eyes
  • constipation
  • wounds healing slower than expected
  • increased infections