Dehydration: Causes, symptoms,treatment
What causes dehydration and how to deal with it
Dehydration can occur to anyone for a number of reasons. It occurs when one loses more fluid then they are taking in, and the body doesn’t have enough water and other fluids to carry out normal functions. It’s important to recognize the causes, signs and symptoms, and what to do in order to treat it.
Dehydration can occur for a variety of reasons, and it’s important to avoid risk factors that you may be susceptible to. Some of the most common causes include intense diarrhea, vomiting, fever, or excessive sweating. All of these can cause a tremendous loss of water and electrolytes in a short period of time. These are sometimes unavoidable depending on the illness causing these symptoms. Another common cause of dehydration includes not drinking enough water in hot weather or when exercising. Diabetes can also contribute to dehydration. A main symptom of undiagnosed or poorly controlled diabetes is frequent urination. This can come on suddenly and severely deplete the body’s water sources. Also, certain medications can increase urination, for example diuretics. Depending on the type of diuretic, one can lose a large amount of water very rapidly.
As mentioned above, certain populations are more susceptible to dehydration than others. Infants and young child typically have small body weights, and can lose water and electrolytes quickly. This age group also commonly has frequent diarrhea. Older adults are at risk because the body’s ability to conserve water is reduced, the sense of thirst becomes less intense, and the body is less able to respond to temperature changes. People suffering from chronic or frequent illnesses are at risk. Due to illness, people are less likely to eat and drink due to a lack of appetite.
It’s important to be able to notice the signs and symptoms of dehydration to intervene and get treatment as early as possible. Mild to moderate symptoms include dry, sticky mouth, weakness, tiredness and fatigue, thirst, decreased urine output and more concentrated urine, few or no tears when crying, dry skin, headache, constipation, dizziness, and lightheadedness. Severe symptom includes extreme thirst, irritability and confusion in adults, fussiness and sleepiness in infants, very dry skin and mucous membranes, lack of sweating, little or no urination, dark yellow or brown urine, sunken eyes, shriveled or dry skin, low blood pressure, rapid heart beat, rapid breathing, no tears when crying, fever, and delirium or unconsciousness. It’s important to get medical attention early before these symptoms worsen. If left untreated, very serious complications can arise such as heat injury, brain swelling, seizures, low blood volume shock, kidney failure, coma, or death.
If caught early enough, treatment is very simple and easy. Oral rehydration with a solution such as Pedialyte, which contains fluids and electrolytes, is commonly used for infants and children. If you notice your child has diarrhea, vomiting, or a fever, begin oral rehydration with a solution similar to Pedialyte, even if symptoms of dehydration are not apparent. Certain sports drinks may also be helpful in replenishing lost fluids. Avoid drinking milk, soda, caffeinated beverages, coffee, or fruit juices. If severe symptoms are occurring, seek medical attention immediately. Intravenous fluids may need to be given through a vein in order to replace fluids quickly.
If you may be susceptible to dehydration, make sure to monitor for any signs or symptoms, and avoid any risk factors that may cause dehydration. If oral rehydration does not relieve the symptoms, or symptoms get worse, make sure to seek medical attention immediately.