You get dehydrated when you use up or lose too much fluid in your body than you take in. When you don’t replace water and fluids that you have lost, your body is not able to perform and carry out its normal tasks, and you get dehydrated.
Two-thirds of the human body is made up of water. It plays a key role in the bodies everyday functions, including keeping your skin healthy, eliminating toxins, lubricating joints and eyes, and helping with proper digestion. Once the fluids in your body is reduced, the salts and sugars in your system become imbalanced and will affect how you do tasks. You will feel thirsty if your body has lost one to two percent of its entire water content. This is a sign that you need to replenish the lost liquids.
Anyone can get dehydrated but it is most likely to occur in infants and children since their bodies are composed of at most 70 percent water. The most common causes of dehydration for children are vomiting and severe diarrhea. In adults, who have a lower water composition in their bodies, the main cause maybe due to medical conditions or take medication that can intensify their risk of dehydration. It is important that you are always mindful of the fluids that you are drinking to avoid being dehydrated. Mild to moderate dehydration can usually be remedied by drinking more fluids. In case of severe dehydration, you would need immediate medical treatment.
Symptoms of Dehydration
Common symptoms of dehydration include intense thirst and too much sweating. However, for many people especially older adults, thirst isn’t always a reliable indication of being dehydrated. Most don’t feel the need to drink water until they’re already dehydrated. This is the reason why it is very important to be conscious of your daily water intake, especially on hot, humid weather or when you are ill.
Mild to Moderate Dehydration
- Dry, sticky mouth
- Dry, cool skin
- Sleepiness or tiredness
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Few or no tears when crying
- Minimal urine
- Muscle cramps
- Extreme thirst
- Irritability and confusion
- Sunken eyes
- Dry skin that doesn't bounce back when you pinch it
- Low blood pressure
- Rapid heartbeat and breathing
- No tears when crying
- Little or no urination, and any urine color that is darker than usual
- In serious cases, delirium or unconsciousness
As mentioned, infants and small children are most susceptible to dehydration, so immediate
attention must be given to them. Symptoms include:
- Sunken soft spot (fontanelle) on their head (top of skull)
- Sunken eyes, cheeks
- Few or no tears when they cry
- Dry mouth and tongue
- Few wet diapers for three hours
- Fast breathing
- Listlessness or irritability
Prolonged and chronic dehydration poses many complications including cholesterol problems, constipation, affecting your organs, kidney stones, and damage to your liver, joint, and muscles. The lost fluids in your body must be replaced as soon as you feel dehydrated, whether it may be mild, moderate or severe. Seek professional treatment as soon as possible for more severe dehydration.
Causes of Dehydration
There are many causes of dehydration. Even if you are just doing your normal, everyday activities you can easily get dehydrated. You also increase your risk if you are doing intense physical activity – when you are losing fluids and expending calories, or when the weather is hot and you are sweating a lot. Some common reasons for dehydration are:
- Diarrhea and Vomiting
Severe, acute diarrhea cause tremendous loss of water and electrolytes in a short amount of time. You can also lose more fluids and electrolytes if your diarrhea is accompanied by vomiting. Diarrhea prevents your digestive tract from getting fluids and water from the food you consume, which makes it a common reason for dehydration.
The higher your fever is, the more it is for you to be susceptible to dehydration. Dehydration also worsens if you have a fever as well as diarrhea and vomiting.
- Excessive Sweating
Sweating excessively may happen for many reasons such as engaging in intense physical activity or even when you have a fever. If you are in a hot and humid environment, you may also sweat profusely and can lose a lot of fluids.
Some medications for diabetes can also cause a person to urinate frequently. In addition, having a high blood sugar level can increase your need to drink water.
- Frequent Urination
Urinating frequently can be caused by a lot of things (i.e. diabetes as noted above), including alcohol and certain drugs like antihistamines, antipsychotics, diuretics and blood pressure medications.
How to Prevent Dehydration
Letting the feeling of thirst as an indicator is an adequate daily guideline for keeping hydrated for most people who are healthy. To prevent dehydration, remember to drink plenty of fluids as well as eat foods that have high water content. Dehydration can be a life-threatening condition, so it is important to immediately replace any fluids that you have lost with water. Drinking enough water is essential so your body can function optimally. One good indication to prevent dehydration is to drink as much water until you see your urine turn light yellow. Anything darker than a light yellow urine means that your kidney is retaining liquids for your body to perform it normal processes.
People who are sick with fever, have diarrhea or are vomiting should be conscious and aware of their fluid intake so they may avoid being dehydrated. They should drink a lot of water to replenish the fluids that they have lost.
Experiencing the symptoms? Contact us to get help.