Health & Lifestyle

Dehydration: Know the Signs, Symptoms, Causes, Prevention and Treatment

Dehydration occurs when your body does not have as much water as it actually needs. Without sufficient water, your body will not be able to work properly. A person can have mild, moderate and sometimes severe dehydration depending upon how much liquid is missing from his or her body.

Causes of dehydration

It is quite normal to lose water from the body daily due to sweating, peeing, breathing, pooping, and through tears or saliva. Generally people replace the lost water by drinking more fluids and consuming foods that contain water. But if you lose too much water or don’t drink and eat enough then you will surely get dehydrated.

A person can lose more water from the body due to the following reasons:

Fever

Diarrhea

Vomiting

Excessive sweating

Peeing a lot (Diabetes and some medications like water pills or diuretics can make you pee more often).

Symptoms of Dehydration

Signs/symptoms of mild or moderate dehydration are:

Thirst or throat dryness

Dry / sticky mouth

Headache

Dark yellow pee

Not peeing enough

Dry skin

Muscle cramps

Signs of severe dehydration are:

Very dry skin

Feeling dizzy

Not peeing / having dark yellow pee

Rapid breathing

Rapid heartbeat

Sunken eyes

Lack of energy, Sleepiness, irritability

Fainting

The symptoms for infants and young children may be different than the adults in the following ways:

Dry mouth & tongue

No tears when crying

Dry diapers for 3 hours

Sunken eyes or cheeks

Lack of energy or restlessness

It is important to mention that severe dehydration is a medical emergency and it must be treated without delay.

Who’s at Risk?

Although anybody can get dehydrated, but the risks are higher for some people and they are:

  1. Infants and kids are the ones who are most likely to have diarrhea & vomiting and in this way they lose much water from high fever. The infants are not able to tell you that they are thirsty hence parents need to be extra careful.

  2. Old people also have less water in their bodies and many times they don’t realize that they are thirsty.

  3. People who are unwell due to cold or sore throat might not want to eat or drink.

  4. People with a chronic disease like type 2 diabetes can urinate a lot if the disease is not under control. They may also take medicines like water pills, which make them go for peeing more often.

  5. People who have to work in hot as well as humid weather sometimes are not able to cool down effectively as their sweat doesn’t evaporate. This may lead to a higher body temperature & need for more water.

Diagnosis

A physician will use physical as well as mental tests to diagnose dehydration. A person having symptoms like disorientation, rapid heartbeat, low blood pressure, lack of sweat, fever and inelastic skin will generally be considered dehydrated.

Blood tests are often done to check kidney function and levels of sodium, potassium and other electrolyte. Electrolytes are chemicals that control hydration in the body and are important for nerve and muscle function. A urine analysis will give useful information to help diagnose dehydration. The pee of person who is dehydrated will be darker in colour and more concentrated containing a certain level of compounds known as ketones.

In order to identify dehydration in babies, doctors generally check for a sunken soft spot on their skull. They may also search for a loss of sweat and certain muscle tone characteristics.

Treatments

The best way to treat dehydration is by refilling the fluid level in the body. This can be done by drinking clear fluids like water, clear broths, ice pops or frozen water or sports drinks. But a few dehydration patients may require intravenous liquids in order to rehydrate. Those who are dehydrated must avoid drinks that contain caffeine such as tea, coffee and sodas.

And if the condition seems to be serious then it is better to consult a doctor.

Prevention

Prevention is better than cure. Consuming lots of fluids and foods that contain high water content like watermelon, cucumber etc. Also people should be careful about doing activities in extreme heat or during hottest part of the day.  Those who do regular exercise must give replenishing fluids a priority. As the elderly and very young are high risk of being dehydrated, special attention need to be given to them to ensure they are getting enough fluids.

Hoping that this summer you will not let your body get dehydrated!!!!



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