How dehydration is dangerous ?
Dehydration is a condition that occurs when someone loses more fluids than he or she takes in. Dehydration isn’t as serious a problem for teens as it can be for babies or young children. But if you ignore your thirst, dehydration can slow you down.
Our bodies are about two thirds water. When someone gets dehydrated, it means the amount of water in his or her body has dropped below the level needed for normal body function. Small decreases don’t cause problems, and in most cases, they go completely unnoticed. But not drinking enough to keep up with the loss of fluid can sometimes make a person feel quite sick.
What causes dehydration?
It doesn’t take much to become dehydrated. Lose just 1.5% of the water in your body (the human body is usually about 60% H2O), and you’ve reached the tipping point of mild dehydration. It can be brought on by many things—and it can do much more to your body than just make you feel thirsty. Dehydration also brings on health effects ranging from fatigue and smelly breath to more dangerous consequences like distracted driving.
The immediate causes of dehydration include not enough water, too much water loss, or some combination of the two. Sometimes it is not possible to consume enough fluids because we are too busy, lack the facilities or strength to drink, or are in an area without potable water (while hiking or camping, for example). Additional causes of dehydration include:
Diarrhea – the most common cause of dehydration and related deaths. The large intestine absorbs water from food matter, and diarrhea prevents this function, leading to dehydration.
Vomiting – leads to a loss of fluids and makes it difficult to replace water by drinking it.
Sweating – the body’s cooling mechanism releases a significant amount of water. Hot and humid weather and vigorous physical activity can further increase fluid loss from sweating.
Diabetes – high blood sugar levels cause increased urination and fluid loss. Tips for handling summer heat for people with diabetes.
Frequent urination – usually caused by uncontrolled diabetes, but also can be due to alcohol and medications such as diuretics, antihistamines, blood pressure medications, and anti-psychotics.
Burns – water seeps into damaged skin and the body loses fluids.
How dehydration diagnosed?
A physician will use both physical and mental exams to diagnose dehydration. A patient presenting symptoms such as disorientation, low blood pressure, rapid heart beat, fever, lack of sweat, and inelastic skin will usually be considered dehydrated.
Blood tests are often employed to test kidney function and to check sodium, potassium, and other electrolyte levels. Electrolytes are chemical ions that regulate hydration in the body and are crucial for nerve and muscle function. A urinalysis will provide very useful information for a dehydration diagnosis. In a dehydrated person, urine will be darker in color and more concentrated – containing a certain level of a compound called ketones.
To diagnose dehydration in infants, doctors usually check for a sunken soft spot on the skull. They may also look for a loss of sweat and certain muscle tone characteristics.
How dehydration treated?
Dehydration must be treated by replenishing the fluid level in the body. This can be done by consuming clear fluids such as water, clear broths, frozen water or ice pops, or sports drinks (such as Gatorade). Some dehydration patients, however, will require intravenous fluids in order to rehydrate. People who are dehydrated should avoid drinks containing caffeine such as coffee, tea, and sodas. A study indicated that dehydrated children should be given fluids by mouth. Underlying conditions that are causing dehydration should also be treated with the appropriate medication. This may include anti-diarrhea medicines, anti-emetics (stop vomiting), and anti-fever medicines.
Studies have tried to establish a recommended daily fluid intake, but it can vary depending on the individual and factors such as age, climate and physical activity.
A good rule is to drink enough fluid so that you’re not thirsty for long periods, and to steadily increase your fluid intake when exercising and during hot weather. Passing clear urine (wee) is a good sign that you’re well hydrated.
You should drink plenty of fluid if you have symptoms of dehydration, such as feeling thirsty and lightheaded, or passing dark-colored urine. It is also important to replace fluid lost after an episode of diarrhea.
Prevention is really the most important treatment for dehydration. Consuming plenty of fluids and foods that have high water content (such as fruits and vegetables) should be enough for most people to prevent dehydration. People should be cautious about doing activities during extreme heat or the hottest part of the day, and all person who are exercising should make replenishing fluids a priority. Since the elderly and very young are often most at risk being dehydrated, special attention should be given to them to make sure they are receiving enough fluids.