Dehydration – What it is, Causes, Symptoms and Treatments that many overlook. In addition, Dehydration occurs when you use or lose more fluid than you accept and your body does not have enough water and other fluids to perform its normal functions. If you do not replace lost fluids, you will be dehydrated.
Anyone can become dehydrated, but the condition is especially dangerous for young children and older adults. The most common cause of dehydration in young children is severe diarrhea and vomiting .
Older adults naturally have a smaller volume of water in their bodies and may have conditions or take medications that increase the risk of dehydration .
This means that even minor illnesses, such as infections that affect the lungs or bladder , can result in dehydration in older adults.
The dehydration can also occur at any age if you do not drink enough water during hot weather – especially if you are exercising vigorously.
You can usually reverse mild to moderate dehydration by drinking more fluids, but severe dehydration needs immediate medical treatment.
Dehydration sometimes occurs for simple reasons: You don’t drink enough because you are sick or busy, or because you don’t have access to clean water when traveling, hiking or camping.
Other causes of dehydration include:
Diarrhea, vomiting: diarrhea and severe acute – i.e., diarrhea arising from sudden and violent – can cause a tremendous loss of water and electrolytes in a short period of time. If you have vomiting along with diarrhea , you lose even more fluids and minerals.
Fever: In general, the higher your fever, the more dehydrated you can become. The problem gets worse if you have a fever, diarrhea and vomiting .
Excessive Sweating: You lose water when you sweat. If you do vigorous activity and do not replace fluids as you go along, you may become dehydrated. Hot and humid weather increases the amount of sweat and the amount of liquid you lose.
Increased Urination: This may be due to undiagnosed or uncontrolled diabetes. Certain medications, such as diuretics and some blood pressure medications, can also lead to dehydration , usually because they make you urinate more.
Thirst is not always a reliable early indicator of the body’s need for water. Many people, particularly older adults, do not feel thirsty until they are already dehydrated. This is why it is important to increase your water intake during hot weather or when you are sick.
The signs and symptoms of dehydration may also vary with age.
Dry Mouth and Tongue
No tears when you cry
No wet diapers for three hours
Sunken eyes, cheeks
Dirty stain on the skull
Disappearance or irritability
Less frequent diving
Dark colored urine
To prevent dehydration , drink plenty of fluids and eat water-rich foods such as fruits and vegetables. Letting thirst be your guide is a proper daily guide for most healthy people.
People may need to drink more if they are experiencing conditions such as:
Vomiting or Diarrhea: If your child is vomiting or has diarrhea , start giving extra water or an oral rehydration solution at the first signs of illness. Do not wait until Dehydration occurs.
Strenuous Exercise: In general, it is best to start hydrating the day before strenuous exercise. Producing lots of clear, diluted urine is a good indication that you are well hydrated. During activity, refill fluids at regular intervals and continue to drink water or other fluids after completion.
Hot or Cold Weather: You need to drink additional water in hot or humid weather to help lower body temperature and replace what you lose through perspiration. You may also need extra water in cold weather to combat moisture loss from dry air, particularly at higher altitudes.
Disease: Older adults often dehydrate during minor illnesses – such as influenza, bronchitis, or bladder infections . Be sure to drink extra fluids when you are not feeling well.
The only effective treatment for dehydration is to replace lost fluids and lost electrolytes. The best approach for treating dehydration depends on the age, severity of dehydration and its cause.
For infants and children who have become dehydrated from diarrhea , vomiting or fever, use an oral rehydration solution without a prescription. These solutions contain water and salts in specific proportions to replenish fluids and electrolytes.
Start with about one teaspoon (5 milliliters) each to five minutes and increase as tolerated. It may be easier to use a syringe for very young children. Older children may receive diluted sports drinks. Use 1 part sports drink for 1 part water.
Most adults with mild to moderate dehydration from diarrhea , vomiting or fever can improve their condition by drinking more water or other fluids. The diarrhea can be exacerbated by fruit juice and soft drinks full force.
If you work or exercise outdoors during hot or humid weather, cold water is your best bet. Sports drinks containing electrolytes and a carbohydrate solution may also be helpful.
Children and adults who are severely dehydrated should be treated by emergency personnel arriving in an ambulance or hospital emergency room. Salts and fluids delivered through a vein (intravenously) are rapidly absorbed and accelerate recovery.