Dehydration takes place when your
body loses more fluid than you drink. The most common cause of water loss from
the body is excessive sweating.
The suggested amount of water to
drink is eight to 10 glasses per day for an average, not active person.
Individuals on the go, athletes, and people exposed to high temperatures should
increase their water intake to avoid dehydration.
When too much water is lost from
the body, the organs, cells, and tissues fail to function as they should, which
can lead to dangerous complications. If dehydration isn’t corrected
immediately, it could cause shock. Dehydration can be mild or severe. Mild
dehydration can usually be treated at home, whereas severe dehydration has to
be treated in a hospital or emergency care setting.
Dehydration Risk Factors
Athletes exposed to direct sun aren’t the only ones at risk for
dehydration. In fact, bodybuilders and swimmers are among the athletes that
most commonly develop the condition. This is because in these sports, drinking
is discouraged during training sessions or before competitions, which can cause
self-induced dehydration. And, strange as it may seem, it’s possible to
sweat in water. Swimmers lose a lot of sweat when swimming.
Some people are at a higher risk of developing dehydration than
exposed to excessive amounts of heat (for example, welders, landscapers,
construction workers, and mechanics)
with chronic illnesses
(especially runners, cyclists, and soccer players)
and young children
who reside in high altitudes
How Does Dehydration Develop?
body regularly loses water through sweating and urination. If the water isn’t
replaced, you become dehydrated. Dehydration is caused by any situation or
condition that causes the body to lose more water than usual.
is part of your body’s natural cooling process. When you become hot, your sweat
glands activate to release moisture from your body in an attempt to cool it
off. The way this works is by evaporation. As a drop of sweat evaporates from
your skin, it takes a small amount of heat with it. The more sweat you produce,
the more evaporation there is, and the more you are cooled off. Sweating also
hydrates your skin and maintains the balance of electrolytes in your body. The
fluid you sweat is composed mainly of salt and water. Excessive sweating can
cause dehydration since you lose a large amount of water. The technical term
for excessive sweating is hyperhidrosis.
that cause continuous vomiting or diarrhea can result in dehydration. This is
because vomiting and diarrhea can cause too much water to be expelled from your
body. Important electrolytes are also lost through these processes.
Electrolytes are minerals used by the body to control the muscles, blood
chemistry, and organ processes. These electrolytes are found in blood, urine,
and other fluids in the body. Vomiting or diarrhea can impair these functions
and cause severe complications such as stroke and coma.
you have a fever, your body loses fluid through your skin’s surface in an
attempt to lower your temperature. Often, fever can cause you to sweat so much
that if you don’t drink to replenish, you could end up dehydrated.
is the body’s normal way to release toxins from your body. Some conditions can
cause chemical imbalances, which can increase your urine output. If you don’t
replace the fluid lost through excessive urination, you run the risk of
What Are the Symptoms of Dehydration?
symptoms of dehydration differ depending on whether the condition is mild or
severe. Symptoms of dehydration may begin to appear before total dehydration
of mild to moderate dehydration include:
addition to the symptoms of mild dehydration, severe dehydration is likely to
cause the following:
of sweat production
of severe dehydration are a real medical emergency and should be treated by a
medical professional immediately.
and seniors should be treated immediately, even if they’re experiencing
symptoms of mild dehydration.
a person in any age group develops the following symptoms, seek emergency care:
in the stool
for three or more days
to keep fluids down
How Is Dehydration Diagnosed?
beginning any tests, your doctor will go over any symptoms you have to rule out
other conditions. After taking your medical history, the doctor will check your
vital signs, including your heart rate and blood pressure. Low blood pressure
and rapid heart rate will indicate dehydration.
test may be used to check the level of electrolytes, which can help
indicate fluid loss. A blood test may also be used to check your body’s level
of creatinine. This helps your doctor determine how well your kidneys are
A urinalysis is an exam that uses a
sample of urine to check for the presence of bacteria and electrolyte loss. Your
doctor can also check for dehydration by checking the color of your urine.
Strategies to Treat Dehydration
for dehydration include rehydrating methods, electrolyte replacement, and
treating diarrhea or vomiting, if needed.
methods include fluid replacement by drinking or IV. Drinking may not be
possible for people suffering from diarrhea or vomiting, so fluids will be
given intravenously. To do this, your doctor inserts a small IV tube in a vein
in the arm. The solution provided through the IV is often a mix of water and
those able to drink, the doctor will suggest drinking water along with an
electrolyte-containing rehydration drink such as Gatorade or a similar sports
drink. Children with dehydration are often directed to drink Pedialyte.
a sports drink isn’t available, you can make your own rehydration solution
teaspoons of sugar
liter of water
absolutely certain that you are using an accurate measurement. Using too much
salt or sugar can be dangerous.
treat yourself by drinking soda, overly sweet drinks, or caffeine. These drinks
can worsen dehydration.
Potential Complications of Untreated Dehydration
Untreated dehydration can lead to life-threatening complications, such
due to electrolyte loss
I Prevent Dehydration?
If you’re ill, increase your fluid
intake, especially if you’re vomiting or having diarrhea constantly. If you
can’t hold down liquids, consult your doctor.
If you’re going to exercise or
play sports, drink 1 to 3 cups of water before beginning. At regular intervals
during the workout, replace your fluids.
Dress cool in hot months and avoid
being out in direct heat if you can avoid it.
Even if you aren’t active, drink
the recommended amount of fluids.