Your heart works harder when dehydrated, increasing your heart rate and the risk of palpitations. Dehydration can also cause an imbalance in electrolytes which can cause palpitations.
When the body’s dehydrated, the heart has to work harder to pump blood around. This extra work can increase your heart rate and palpitations as it beats faster overall.
Additionally, blood can thicken when you’re dehydrated due to a lack of water, making even more work for your heart.
In some cases, dehydration can also cause your electrolytes to become imbalanced, resulting in palpitations.
Heart palpitations on their own may not be an emergency.
But if you’re finding it difficult to breathe, have pain or tightness in your chest, or faint with palpitations, go straight to the emergency room.
Dehydration can also require hospital treatment, particularly if you experience the following alongside it:
- decreased urination
- debilitating muscle pain
- unexplained confusion
- dizziness, drowsiness, or weakness
- excessive diarrhea or vomiting
- excessive blood or mucus in diarrhea or vomit
A wide variety of things can cause heart palpitations, including heart conditions, lifestyle habits, and certain medications.
Underlying heart issues that may lead to heart palpitations include:
- abnormal heart rhythm (arrhythmia)
- congenital heart conditions
- heart attack or heart failure
Stress and anxiety can have an impact, along with a lack of sleep and intense exercise.
If you drink alcohol or caffeine, smoke cigarettes or vape nicotine, or use other substances, you may also experience heart palpitations.
The following also have links to palpitations:
- hormonal changes from pregnancy or menopause
- overactive thyroid
- medications like inhalers
Heart palpitations aren’t the only sign that you might be dehydrated.
Some of the more obvious symptoms are feeling thirsty, dizzy, and lightheaded. You may also notice that your mouth and lips are dry and that your urine has turned dark yellow with a stronger smell than usual.
Peeing may be less frequent, too. Plus, you may feel tired and experience headaches.
Stopping heart palpitations
Heart palpitations that appear with no other symptoms often don’t require professional treatment.
There are a few things you can try to relieve them in the moment. Breathing and muscle exercises can help. Consider doing one or all of the following:
- Place one hand on your stomach and breathe in slowly and deeply through your nose, exhaling through your nose or mouth.
- Pinch your nose shut and close your mouth while forcibly breathing out through your nose.
- Splash cold water onto your face or immerse your face in a sink of cold water.
If other symptoms occur, it’s best to consult with a doctor or other healthcare professional.
They may perform blood work or an electrocardiogram to help pinpoint the cause, prescribe medication, or recommend surgery if appropriate.
Recovering from dehydration
The first thing to do if you’re dehydrated is to try and get fluids back into your body.
Avoid taking big gulps —instead, take small sips of water every so often. You can also try consuming foods with high water content, such as berries, melons, soup, or ice cream.
If you’ve been vomiting or had diarrhea, you may need to purchase oral rehydration powder to replenish your body’s levels of minerals, sugars, and salts. This is mixed with water and is usually available in pharmacies.
Serious cases of dehydration may require intravenous fluids from a hospital.
Avoiding anything that might trigger dehydration is the best way to prevent both that and the heart palpitations that may come with it.
Staying hydrated is the main piece of advice. Typically, this means drinkingeight glasses of water per day or enough that your urine remains pale in color.
How much you need to drink may depend on where you live and what time of year it is, along with your overall health and lifestyle.
This is particularly important if you experience:
- excessive sweating
- excessive alcohol consumption
All of the above can make you more prone to dehydration.
General triggers for heart palpitations include alcohol, smoking, and low blood sugar, so embarking on a healthier lifestyle can help in the long run.
If you’re concerned about any of your symptoms (and they’re not an emergency), make an appointment to see a doctor or other healthcare professional.
Some instances where this might happen include if you’re frequently becoming dehydrated and don’t know why or if you regularly have heart palpitations and can’t figure out the trigger.
Similarly, contact a healthcare professional if your palpitations change or your pulse is higher than 100 beats per minute and you haven’t been exercising.
If you’re dehydrated, your heart may find it more difficult to pump blood around the body. This can cause palpitations.
This isn’t necessarily anything to worry about unless you find it difficult to breathe, experience chest pain, or faint while having these symptoms.
You should also seek immediate medical attention if you notice bloody vomit or diarrhea alongside dizziness or weakness.
To avoid dehydration-related heart palpitations, remain hydrated. And if you do experience them, try to relieve them through deep breathing exercises and cold water immersion.