Dehydration is a term that means losing more fluid from your body than you take in. As we know our body constitutes around 70% of water and losing a good amount of it can create problems. These problems can be life-threatening in the case of children as well as in the case of older adults.
Several factors or causes are responsible for dehydration. The most common of them are diarrhea and vomiting. Older adults naturally have a lower volume of water in their bodies, there might be medications that can increase the risk of dehydration.
Even minor illnesses can cause dehydration in older adults. Although it is very practical that dehydration can occur at any stage of life.
What is dehydration?
Dehydration is a stage in which your body loses more fluid than you drink. So, dehydration happens when your body does not have as much water as it needs. Therefore, when an excessive amount of water is lost from the body, the organs, cells, and tissues fail to perform their proper function. This can lead to fatal and dangerous complications. If dehydration is not treated immediately, it can also cause shock.
There are other ways as well that can cause loss of water. These causes are as follows;
All these causes constitute dehydration in the body although this dehydration can be replenished with the fluids you drink or the food you eat. But in case of severe dehydration immediate medical assistance is important.
What are the symptoms of dehydration?
The signs or symptoms of moderate dehydration are as follows:
- Feeling thirsty
- Dry or sticky mouth
- Insufficient urination
- Dark yellow urine
- Dry or cool skin
- Muscle cramps
Apart from these there are signs of severe dehydration as well and they are as follows:
- No urination or having very dark yellow pee
- Extensive dry skin
- Feeling of dizziness
- Rapid heartbeat
- Rapid breathing
- Sunken eyes
- Lack of energy
- Confusion or irritability
How does the condition of dehydration develop in an individual?
The phenomenon of losing water from the body in the form of sweat or urinating is quite common and normal as well. But when a person is experiencing excessive sweating as well as urinating and facing some other medical conditions that result in the excessive loss of water from the body, he or she might develop the problems of dehydration. We can say that any condition whether it is normal or any medical condition or problem that results in loss of body fluids is dehydration.
- Sweating – It is a natural cooling process of the human body. When your body becomes hot, the sweat glands release sweat to cool it off. It works on the principles of evaporation. As the drop of the sweat evaporates from the skin it takes a part of the heat by itself. Sweating is important as it hydrates the skin as well as maintains the balance of electrolytes in your body. Sweat is composed of salt and water, and excessive sweating results in dehydration.
- Illness – Illnesses are also responsible for dehydration. Especially illnesses that cause continuous vomiting or diarrhea can result in serious dehydration. The excessive loss of water through vomiting and diarrhea directly affects your body. You feel lazy as well as tired. All the important electrolytes are lost when you have diarrhea or vomiting. Thus, losing important electrolytes makes your muscles unable to perform their functions properly. Apart from vomiting and diarrhea your body also loses fluid when you have a fever. Your body naturally loses water through your skin to cool down the body temperature. Sometimes because of fever excessive sweating happens and thus resulting in dehydration.
- Urination – urination is the body’s natural process to release harmful toxins from the body. There are some complications that can cause a chemical imbalance that can result in an increase in urination. Therefore, excessive urination can result in losing fluids from the body and if the lost fluid cannot be recovered it can cause dehydration.
Complications that can occur because of dehydration
There are many complications that can develop because of dehydration, and it can cause life-threatening conditions as well some of them are listed below:
- Heat exhaustion – heat exhaustion is a stage that occurs when your body overheats in response to external factors. Heat (high temperature) is the main factor for heat exhaustion. Heat exhaustion is common in athletes.
- Heat cramps – heat cramps usually happen when you have been physically active in the heat and moreover, they can also occur if you have not been active at all. They are Muscle pain and tightness of muscles.
- Heat strokes – Heat Stroke develops when the body is unable to effectively sweat to cool itself down. This happens because of dehydration.
- Seizure due to electrolytes loss – Because of the electrolytes (elements and compounds that are present in the body naturally to maintain overall functionality of the body. Moreover, to control the physiological functions.) loss you can face seizures, and this happens because of dehydration.
- Low blood volume – low blood volume can be defined as the amount of blood in the human body. In general, a normal person must have blood volume equivalent to 7 percent of their body weight. Low blood volume can result in hemorrhagic shock that can lead to excessive urine output thus resulting in dehydration.
- Kidney failure – Kidney failure also results in dehydration. They are unable to filter the blood properly because many important electrolytes are lost and hence it results in dehydration.
- Coma – when there is an imbalance in the electrolytes, the organs of the body also get affected. The inadequate availability of electrolytes can cause organs like the brain to face a temporary or permanent disruption that severely affects consciousness.
How can you prevent dehydration?
There are Certains ways by which you can prevent dehydration and they are as follows;
- If you think that you are sick and ill, increase your fluid intake. Increment in fluid intake will help to replenish the lost fluid from the body.
- In the case of severe vomiting or diarrhea, seek medical help as soon as possible to avoid any fatal health problems.
- If you are indulging in exercise or if you are playing any outdoor games basically if you are indulging in any sort of physical activity it is recommended to drink water before going out, during the activity, or at different intervals of time and after finishing your activity drink plenty of water or electrolytes to replenish the lost fluid from the body.
- If you are going out in the hot summer season, make sure that you are not being hit by direct sunlight as it can cause problems, therefore, it is advisable to avoid direct sunlight and cover yourself as well.
- Even if you are not indulging in heavy exercise or activity, always drink enough water to avoid dehydration. And to maintain the level of fluids in the body.
Dehydration occurs when you are not getting enough fluids. Whether it is from exercise, hot weather, or an illness, dehydration can quickly become dangerous no matter what the cause. You can help prevent dehydration by drinking plenty of water throughout the day and taking electrolytes if you start seeing early signs of fluid loss.
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