Dehydration is a condition when you loose more water than you take in. The body therefore does not have enough water and other fluids to carry out it’s functions. Symptoms range from mild to life threatening. The young and elderly are most susceptible. Dehydration can be caused by diarrhea, vomiting, fever and so on. Severe dehydration is a medical emergency and needs urgent medical care.
Dehydration occurs when you don’t drink enough fluids to replace what is being lost. This can simply be caused by not drinking enough water and other fluids. Other conditions that can also cause dehydration include the following :
Diarrhea : This can cause a tremendous amount of water and electrolyte loss in a short amount of time.
Vomiting : This causes loss of water from the body and also makes it difficult to replace the lost fluid through drinking .
Fever : The higher your fever, the more water you loose. Fever with vomiting and diarrhea make you loose more water.
Sweating : The body loses a lot of water in the form of sweat when it tries to cool itself.
Increased urination : Increased urination caused by undiagnosed diabetes mellitus can lead to dehydration.
Inability to drink fluids : This could be caused by nausea and vomiting, no access to safe water or lack of energy to drink water.
Certain people or conditions may increase your risk of dehydration
Children and Infants are highly susceptible to dehydration because of their relatively small body weights and high turnover of water and electrolytes.
People with chronic diseases such as diabetes, kidney disease and adrenal disorders are also at risk.
Older adults are at high risk. They have reduce ability to retain water and their ability to sense thirst is not strong.
Athletes become a victim to dehydration especially during hot humid weather.
People living or working in high altitudes can become dehydrated because their bodies tries to adjust to high altitude through increased urination and more rapid breathing.
People working outside especially during the hot humid weathers are at risk too.
Signs and symptoms of dehydration ranges from mild to severe.
- dry skin
- decreased urine output
- dry , sticky mouth
- little or no urine output
- extreme thirst
- sunken eyes
- very dry mouth
- low blood pressure
- rapid heart beat
- rapid breathing
- skin loses it elasticity
- lack of sweat
- extreme fussiness in children
- no tears when you cry
- loss of consciousness
TEST AND DIAGNOSIS
Doctors can diagnose dehydration by physical examination such as looking out for sunken eyes, dry lips, loss of skin’s elasticity and little or no urination. Doctors may also perform these other test.
Vital Stats : Doctors may check your blood pressure, pulse, heart rate and so on .
Blood Test : Doctors may perform a blood test to check your electrolyte level especially potassium and sodium. They may also check how your kidney is functioning.
Urinalysis : This is done to check how concentrated your urine is. The concentration of your urine determines the degree of dehydration.
The first treatment for dehydration is prevention however fluid replacement is the main treatment for this condition. This could be done by mouth or intravenously. You will be asked to drink water or electrolyte solution to replace lost fluids and restore electrolyte balance.Water alone is not a safe treatment for dehydration in children. It can lead to electrolyte imbalance. Electrolyte solutions such as pedialyte should be used.
In cases of high fever, doctors will cool the entire body by evaporation using mists and fans or cooling blankets and baths.
Medications such as acetaminophen can be used to treat fever associated with dehydration.
Dehydration can present these complications.
- kidney failure
- heat injury such as heat exhaustion or heat stroke
- low blood volume – hypovolemic shock
- swelling of brain
- coma or death
Taking these essential precautions can help prevent dehydration.
Drink plenty of water and eat foods with high water content.
Take extra water to outdoor events and activities that involves a lot of sweating.
Avoid exercising outdoors during very hot humid days.
Wear light-colored and loose fitting dresses.
Ensure children and the elderly have adequate fluids and water. Assist them if necessary.
Cool your body with air conditioning or take shelter at shaded areas when the weather is very hot.