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Dehydration – Signs, Symptoms, Causes and Prevention

Introduction

Dehydration occurs where there is a massive loss of fluids in your body compared to what you consume. It is important to replace those fluids. It is a common condition and can happen to anyone, be it young children, infants, or older people. But this condition can be dangerous for young children and old adults and they may require immediate medical attention depending on the severity. 

What is Dehydration? 

Dehydration is a sign that our body is running low on water. Since our body consists of almost 75% of water, we must keep ourselves hydrated. 

We must replace the loss of liquids by consuming water by responding to our thirst mechanism. Dehydration can cause severe repercussions and unnecessary medical issues. Keeping ourselves hydrated will prevent this.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Dehydration? 

The very first sign of Dehydration can be feeling thirsty and production and passing of dark and less urine. The color of our urine is one of the most important signs of our hydration level. Dark yellow urine indicates dehydration. If your urine is clear and transparent, this means that you are hydrated, but this should not stop you from consuming water for the rest of the day. 

In adults, there is a possibility that dehydration will occur without the sign of feeling thirsty. According to the health experts, you should consume at least 2 liters of water in your entire day. When the weather outside is especially hot, you should increase your water intake. 

The signs and symptoms of dehydration are classified as per age.

Infants and Young Children 

  • Sunken eyes and cheeks. 
  • Dry diaper for almost three hours. 
  • Irritation and loss of concentration. 
  • Crying without tears. 
  • Sunken and soft spot on the top of the skull. 
  • Dry tongue and mouth. 
  • Stretchy or dry skin

Adults 

  • Feeling extremely thirsty.
  • State of Confusion. 
  • Dizziness. 
  • Dark urine. 
  • Less and frequent passing of urine. 
  • Feeling fatigued.

When to See a Doctor? 

The signs of dehydration in adults may be different from young children and infants, but here are a few symptoms that clearly indicate that you have to visit your doctor and get yourself treated for dehydration. 

  • Suffering from diarrhea for over 24 hours 
  • Feeling irritated, disoriented, and sleeping less than you usually do. 
  • Not able to retain the fluids. 
  • Defecating black or bloody human excreta. 

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What are the Precautions I Should Take? 

Dehydration can be avoided. There are numerious ways you can prevent yourself from suffering from this illness. 

  • If you are already suffering from any illness, it is best suggested that you increase your fluid intake. 
  • If you are vomiting or suffering from diarrhea, you should connect with your doctor immediately. 
  • Hydration before, during and after workout, playing sports, or doing any intense physical activity is essential 
  • Consume electrolytes after your workout and exercise. 
  • Avoid going out directly in the hot weather.
  • Even if you are not performing any rigorous activity, consume the recommended amount of water in a day. 

Are There Any Remedies to Hydrate Ourselves? 

The best way to hydrate oneself is by consuming an electrolyte drink, and if it isn’t available you can make your own at home. You just need:

  • 1 liter of water in a bottle 
  • Mix salt (half to one tsp) and sugar( 2 tsp) with water

The electrolyte made from the above will help you replace the fluids of your body and hydrate it as well. However, if this isn’t working well, you should immediately seek medical attention.

What is the Treatment for Dehydration? 

The best treatment for dehydration is to compensate for the liquid loss with the help of water and electrolytes. The approach to treatment may differ from person to person, and also vary with age and severity.  

In  case of infants and children who are suffering from dehydration because of diarrhea, vomiting, and fever, they can be given oral rehydration solution that contains water and salt in specific portions. This solution will replenish the fluids and electrolytes of their body. If it is an infant, start with feeding the baby with a teaspoon full of water every 5 to 6 minutes or as tolerated by them.  It is better to consult doctor, if there is severe dehydration

In terms of adults also, it should be the same. There has to be an increase in liquid and fluid consumption, but make sure to drink only water-based fluids. Consuming soft drinks and fruit juices may not be that effective. 

If you are highly active and exercise outdoors in times of hot and humid weather, you should make sure you are consuming enough liquids. Electrolytes and even glucose solutions will be helpful to keep you hydrated during your active periods. 

It is to be noted that severe dehydration can only be treated by medical experts and doctors. They may recommend administering intravenous (IV) fluids (eg: RL, NS etc.) that will provide you with the required fluids and ensure speedy and effective recovery. 

Conclusion

Dehydration is a sign that your body is parched because of the loss of liquid. This may be because of exercises, activities, hot weather, or any pre-existing illness. Dehydration can occur quickly and can be dangerous if you don’t pay timely attention to it and ensure that your body receives enough fluids.

Frequently Asked Questions 

Why does dehydration cause irritation or fatigue?

Along with our body, our brain is also fueled by water and needs to be hydrated to operate without any difficulty. Fatigue and irritation are among the most common symptoms of dehydration as it affects our cognitive functioning. 

What are the repercussions of dehydration? 

  • Seizures Electrolytes: Sodium and potassium help in carrying electrical signals from one cell to another. If the electrolytes are out of balance, normal electrical messages can become mixed up, which may cause involuntary muscle contractions and sometimes may lead to loss of consciousness.
  • Cerebral edema (swelling of the brain): On some occasions, when you are getting fluids back again after being dehydrated, your body tries to pull too much water back into the cells, which can lead to swelling or rapture in the cells. The outcomes are grave especially when brain cells are affected.
  • Kidney failure: This potentially life-threatening conditon occurs when the kidneys are no longer capable of removing excessive fluids and waste from your blood.
  • Hypovolemic shock (Low blood volume shock): This is one of the most severe, and potentially life-threatening (sometimes) complications resulting from dehydration. It happens when low blood volume leads to a drop in blood pressure and a drop in the amount of oxygen in the body.
  • Coma and death: If not treated quickly and appropriately, severe dehydration can be fatal.
  • Finally, Dehydration can cause you several lethal illnesses and it is also a major reason for Kidney stones. 

Which is the most prominent sign of Dehydration? 

Thirst is triggered when your body is dehydrated; although it is not reliable, it can be a sign. Dark urine strongly indicates that you are in need of hydration and fluids, which is the reason it is important to always listen to your body. 

What kind of drinks should I avoid to stay away from dehydration? 

Drinks like alcohol, over-sweet or soft drinks, and overconsumption of caffeine can be some of the reasons for dehydration. It is best to avoid these beverages, especially if you are already suffering from dehydration, as it can worsen the situation. 

Can I treat Dehydration at home? 

You can act on the early signs and symptoms of dehydration by consuming electrolytes and fluids. However, if you are suffering from severe dehydration and have been having  diarrhea for the past few hours, medical consultation is recommended. You must visit the doctor and get yourself properly treated for dehydration. 

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