Dehydration is a condition wherein the body lost a dangerous amount of body fluids. This occurs when more water is moved out of the cells than we take in from drinking. From breathing to sweating, the body needs water to complete its many processes. That’s why it’s extremely important to drink at least 8 glasses of water every day or more, if you are working out. When large volumes of water are lost, the body will start breaking down. This leads to various symptoms and even chronic ailments. Severe dehydration can be fatal.
Signs and Symptoms of Dehydration
The most common signs of dehydration are extreme thirst, swollen tongue, dry mouth and dizziness. Other symptoms include palpitations, fatigue, confusion, fainting and inability to sweat. Decreased urination frequency, sluggishness, and weakness are also symptoms of dehydration. A quick way to learn if you’re dehydrated is to check the color of your pee. If it’s deep yellow or amber in color, you need to increase your water intake. If it’s very light yellow to almost colorless, then you are getting enough water.
Causes of Dehydration
Many factors come together to cause dehydration. Exposure to heat, excessive exercising, and fever can cause dehydration. Diarrhea, infections, and vomiting can also cause dehydration. Your risk of dehydration increases if you’re suffering from diabetes or an infection. Injuries, zero access to water and skin diseases can also cause dehydration.
If you or a loved one experienced rapid weight loss, decreased urine production and weakness, call your doctor right away. The same thing goes if the patient has a fever over 101°F or is exhibiting signs of confusion, extreme weakness. If the temperature rises to 103°F and the patient is showing signs of chest or abdominal pains, difficulty in breathing, and seizures, take the patient to the emergency department.
First Aid Treatment for Extremely Dehydrated Patients
If a patient has been extremely dehydrated and he has not peed for 12 hours or more, let him take several small sips of water or suck on a Popsicle stick. Then, reduce heat exposure by loosening or removing excess clothing or bringing the patient to an air-conditioned room. If air conditioning is not available, apply a wet towel on the patient’s forehead and place a fan near him. Mist lukewarm water on all exposed skin to help dissipate heat.
Never expose the skin to the extreme cold such as ice water or ice packs. The sudden drop in temperature can cause the blood vessels to constrict. This will increase heat loss, leading to chills.
How to Prevent Dehydration
Drink More Water
Make it a point to drink two liters of water daily. If you’ll be away on a trip or you are heading out, bring a water bottle with you. You may also increase your fluid intake by eating fruits and vegetables with high water content. These foods include apples, watermelon, grapes, and berries.
Avoid Heat Exposure
Minimize your exposure to heat so the body does not perspire continuously. Perspiration is a normal response to high heat, but too much sweating can cause fluid loss. To reduce heat exposure, check the weather forecasts and plan your activities well so that you don’t have to spend most of the time outside. And when you are out, make sure to stay in well-shaded spots where the air is cooler.
Avoid Alcoholic Beverages
Alcohol accelerates water loss and impairs a person’s ability to see signs of dehydration. So avoid alcohol at all cost. But let’s face it, it’s hard to stay away from alcohol when you’re out with your friends. Our advice is to pace yourself by drinking water after every sip or every bottle of alcohol. Before you sleep, drink a lot of water so you’re not as hung over the next day. Finally, recover from a night of drinking by boosting your fluid intake immediately in the morning.