Dehydration is a common problem faced by many people, particularly during excessive heat, sports or after illnesses. As the water in your body contains salts and electrolytes, when water is lost, the salts are lost. This creates an electrolyte imbalance, leading to various health problems. Dehydration can thus result in undesirable symptoms. It is important to know the causes, symptoms, treatment and the ways of prevention of dehydration in the body.
Causes of Dehydration:
Some of the common causes of dehydration include the following conditions.
- Excessive heating and over exertion are the common causes of dehydration. When you have a fever or are exposed to heat for long or have done heavy exercises, you are at risk of water loss and dehydration.
- Diabetes is another common cause of dehydration. Diabetes Miletus (type 2) is often treated with an enzyme called insulin, which needs adequate amount of water. Also, as diabetics lose a lot of water with increased urination, there is more water loss, which are the common causes of dehydration.
- An upset stomach, food poisoning, etc. often causes water loss in the form of vomiting and diarrhea. They force all the water in your body out and hence there is shortage of water and electrolytes in the body. Water loss in such forms too are the common causes of dehydration.
- If you don't take food and water for quite a long time in a day your body has nothing to do digest. So it uses the available water and minerals and provides energy to the body. So when all the water is used up the body runs low on water.
- Significant amount of water can be lost from damaged skin. Sores, wounds, scalds, skin diseases and infections can be some of the causes of dehydration.
- Consumption of alcohol and various drugs, blood pressure medications and antipsychotics that cause increased urination can also cause dehydration.
Signs and Symptoms of Dehydration:
Here are some of the signs and symptoms of dehydration
- Cry and sticky mouth
- Feeling tired and sleepiness
- The inside of the eyes get less red.
- Dark yellow colored urine
- Muscles when moderately worked on, gets cramped easily.
Severe symptoms of dehydration include
- Eyes are sunken
- Heart has to work harder as it doesn't get enough water to oxygenate the blood and hence beats fast.
- For males, the groin hurts. Feeling to urinate occurs but little or no urine occurs.
- You have an extreme level of thirst.
- Blood pressure level is considerably lowered.
- Body goes into a state of delirium.
- You might pass out following dizziness.
- There is inability of body to produce sweat.
Treatment and Prevention of Dehydration
Treatment of dehydration mainly includes replenishing your body with adequate water, salts and electrolytes. Oral rehydration salts may be taken in the form of drinks. In severe cases, treatment of dehydration may include hospitalization to administer fluids and electrolytes.
Prevention of dehydration includes keeping yourself hydrated and maintain electrolyte balance. To keep yourself hydrated, always carry a bottle of water whenever you go out. Avoid direct exposure in the sun, stay indoors, if possible and wear protective gear.
People who exercise, play sports or go out for cycling, jogging, etc. need to be more careful. Wear light cotton clothes that allow you to cool and avoid getting overheated. Sip on water at regular intervals, fresh fruit juices or drinks with salts and electrolytes, carry fruits like melons, berries and citrus fruits and they are rich in water content. Ensure you consume proper balanced nutritious meals even if you are trying to lose weight. Carry healthy low fat snacks, dry fruits, when going out.
Avoid falling prey to over claiming energy drinks or sports drinks. They contain plenty of sugar and other substances, which may not be very healthy for you. Freshly prepared juices or fresh fruits, unsweetened yogurt and water is a better option.
When to Seek Medical Care for Dehydration:
Some of the very serious symptoms of dehydration may need immediate medical attention
- Constant diarrhea for 2 days
- Persistent vomiting for a full day
- Rumbling sounds in abdomen
- High fever
- Weakness and fatigue
- Weight loss
- Difficulty in breathing.