How to treat dehydration?

Summit Medical Group Web Site

What is dehydration?

Dehydration happens when you lose more body fluids than you take in. Your body needs water and minerals (salts) to function. In dehydration, you may lose both water and salts, you may lose just salts, or you may lose just water. Your body needs the right balance of minerals to keep your heart, kidneys, and other organs working normally. In severe cases of dehydration, the loss of fluid and electrolyte imbalance can cause you to get very sick and may even be fatal.

Dehydration can be caused by:

  • Severe diarrhea or vomiting
  • Too much sweating from fever, strenuous exercise, or being out in very hot weather
  • Increased urination, which is often caused by diabetes or taking medicines that help the body get rid of extra fluid (diuretics)

People who are more at risk for dehydration are:

  • Babies less than 1 year old
  • Older adults
  • People with chronic diseases
  • People who live in or work or exercise outside in hot humid weather
  • People who live, work or exercise at high altitude
  • Athletes who train for and participate in events that take hours or days to complete

The common symptoms of dehydration include:

  • Thirst and a dry, sticky mouth
  • Headache, dizziness, or lightheadedness
  • Decreased urine or urine color that is dark yellow or amber
  • Dry or shriveled skin

What can I expect in the hospital?

You may need to stay in the hospital because your dehydration is severe, you need close monitoring, or you have a medical condition which makes dehydration or treating it a more serious problem.

Several things may be done while you are in the hospital to monitor, test, and treat your condition. They include:

Monitoring

  • You will be checked often by the hospital staff.
  • Your blood pressure, heart rate and temperature will be checked regularly.
  • A cardiac (heart) monitor may be used to keep track of your heart rate and rhythm.
  • Your fluid intake will be monitored closely by keeping track of everything you eat and drink and any IV fluids you receive.
  • Your fluid output will be monitored closely by keeping track of the amounts of urine, diarrhea, vomiting or stomach fluids you produce.

Testing

Testing may include:

  • Physical exam to look for the cause of your dehydration and check how severe it is
  • Tests of the blood, urine, stool, or vomit to check for viruses, bacteria or parasites
  • Blood or urine tests to check fluid and electrolyte levels
  • Blood, urine, or other tests to monitor how well your organs are functioning

Treatment

The treatment for dehydration depends on its cause, how severe it is, your symptoms, how well you respond to treatment, your overall health, and any complications you may have.

  • You will have a small tube (IV catheter) inserted into a vein in your hand or arm. This will allow for fluids to be given directly into your blood and to give you medicine, if needed.
  • You may have a tube put through your nose down into your stomach, called a nasogastric or NG tube. The tube may be used to give fluids or medicine.
  • Your provider may prescribe medicine to:
    • Replace electrolytes
    • Treat the cause of any infection
    • Treat vomiting or diarrhea
    • Treat the cause of the dehydration, such as controlling your blood sugar

What can I do to help?

  • You will need to tell your healthcare team if you have new or worsening:
    • Confusion
    • Dizziness or lightheadedness, especially when you stand up, or fainting
    • Fast, slow, or irregular heartbeat
    • Headache
    • Increased thirst and dry mouth
    • Decreased urination
    • Muscle cramps or spasms
    • Vomiting or diarrhea
    • Seizure or convulsions
    • Tiredness or weakness
    • Trouble breathing or not able to catch your breath
  • Ask questions about any medicine, treatment, or information that you do not understand.

How long will I be in the hospital?

How long you stay in the hospital depends on many factors. The average amount of time to stay in the hospital with dehydration is 3 to 4 days.

6 Signs of Severe Dehydration and How to Treat It

Chances are you suffer from chronic dehydration. After all, statistics show that over 75% of Americans do. That’s close to 246 million people.

While dehydration is common, it doesn’t look the same in everyone. Its signs and symptoms can vary depending on the person affected, as well as the severity of the condition. Infants and children, as well as the elderly, are at increased risk for dehydration. Plus, what doctors classify as a mild to moderate case of dehydration varies from severe dehydration.

Catching it early is key to proper dehydration treatment and prevention of a more serious case that could become life-threatening.

What Is Dehydration?

Dehydration occurs when an individual loses more fluid than they take in. Since the body is made up of two-thirds water, it’s essential for human life. In fact, water plays a large role in normal body functions, like facilitating digestion, lubricating the joints and eliminating toxins to keep the skin healthy.

Even if your body has only lost 1-2% of its water content, it can have adverse effects that present themselves in the form of dehydration symptoms. A fluid deficit from water loss can leave you feeling thirsty or sleepy, as well as having a mild headache, dry mouth with bad breath or muscle cramps, often referred to as “charley horses.” You likely won’t have the urge to use the bathroom as frequently, as you’ll experience minimal urine output.

What Happens to Your Body When It Dehydrates?

If you’re feeling thirsty, your body is likely already dehydrated. Why is this the case? Because your thirst mechanism lags behind your actual level of hydration.

Losing body water without replacing it results in your blood becoming more concentrated. This causes your heart rate to increase to maintain your blood pressure, and it triggers your kidneys to retain water (hence, decreased urination).

Less water in your system also hinders your body’s ability to regulate your temperature, which can lead to hyperthermia, or a body temperature that’s well above normal. And because fluid levels in the brain lower, they affect your mood, memory and coordination.

6 Signs of Dehydration

As fluid loss worsens from one being mildly to moderately to severely dehydrated, it can lead to signs of mental and physical decline that will need immediate action for reversal. If symptoms of severe dehydration are concerning enough, they may also require the assistance of a medical professional.

1. Not Urinating or Very Dark Urine

An easy way to test and see if you’re dehydrated is checking the color of your urine. Normal urine should be pale yellow in color, like lemonade. If your urine is a darker color, similar to apple juice, this could be a sign of moderate to severe dehydration. Not urinating at all? You’re most likely severely dehydrated.

What to do: Should you find your urine is a dark yellow, be sure to start drinking more water immediately. It’s best to take small sips of water your body can properly absorb, rather than gulping down glass after glass of water that your kidneys will expel. If you feel you’re not getting enough fluids on a regular basis, consider taking a large water bottle with you to drink throughout the day—at work, in the car and on the go.

2. Dry Skin That Doesn’t Bounce Back When Pinched

Checking the color of your urine is not the only quick test you can perform to determine if you’re dehydrated. A person’s skin elasticity is also telling. Try this: Pinch the skin on the top of your hand and see what happens. If it moves back slowly, this is an indication that you’re mildly to moderately dehydrated. If the skin seems to stick together (i.e., it “tents”), this is a sign of severe dehydration.

What to do: Like with darker urine, you should increase your water intake and drink fluids if you’re experiencing mild to moderate dehydration. While a glass of water is a good “go-to,” if you’ve just finished a strenuous workout, you can also try rehydrating drinks like a sports drink or coconut water. If you are severely dehydrated and your skin tents, you may have to visit a healthcare provider who can help treat dehydration.

3. Rapid Heartbeat and Breathing

It’s natural to have an increased heart rate and rapid breathing while exercising. But if your symptoms don’t go away once you’ve cooled down—or you haven’t been working out and you experience these symptoms—it could be a sign of severe dehydration as depleted amounts of electrolytes can affect the heart’s ability to pump blood.

What to do: Fluid intake is crucial for organs like your heart, liver, kidneys, and lungs to function properly. So, it’s important you visit a doctor for dehydration when you experience these symptoms. After thorough examination, if a medical professional determines you are dehydrated, you’ll likely be hooked up to receive intravenous fluid containing a concentrate rehydration solution (water with salts and sugars like sodium chloride and potassium) for quick delivery of fluids to the thirstiest parts of your body.

4. Confusion, Dizziness or Lightheadedness

Did you know that your brain is composed of 73% water? That’s why drinking water and eating water-filled foods can help your brain work better. On the flip side, if you don’t get enough fluids it can have adverse effects. If you’re feeling like you might pass out at any moment, or you’re confused over where you are, how you got there or what you’re doing, it might mean you are severely dehydrated.

What to do: Don’t take symptoms like these lightly. Properly rehydrate by slowing drinking water and eating water-filled foods like cucumbers, watermelon, tomatoes, strawberries, apples, and grapes. Both options will help replenish your body with the minerals and electrolytes it needs to absorb into the brain and tissues. If you’re experiencing severe dehydration with confusion, you should go to the emergency room to be checked out by a healthcare provider.

5. Fever and Chills

Usually we associate a fever and chills with having an illness like the flu or an ear infection. But don’t let this warning sign fool you. It’s also a dangerous sign of severe dehydration. When your body doesn’t have enough fluids, it’s hard to maintain a regular body temperature and this can lead to hyperthermia and fever-like symptoms including chills.

What to do: Stop any sport or strenuous activity you’re involved in immediately. The stress you’re placing on your body and its systems is making your symptoms worse. To treat dehydration at home, drink more fluids and either apply a cold compress to your face or take an ice bath to cool down. If your temperature doesn’t improve, or it reaches above 103° indicating severe dehydration in adults, go to the nearest emergency room.

6. Unconsciousness

If you or someone you know is feeling lightheaded or hot due to a high body temperature, they might be on the brink of passing out. Unconsciousness results from several factors, including low blood pressure, dizziness, etc. When accompanied with other dehydration signs, this could be indicative of severe fluid loss.

What to do: Unconsciousness is a red flag that your body is in dire need of water. Call 911 immediately if you’re around someone who passes out. They’ll need to be transported to the emergency room right away for dehydration treatment. Like with other serious signs of dehydration, you or the person affected will most likely receive rehydration therapy. You’ll be monitored by doctors to ensure you’re stable and your fluid levels have returned to normal before you’re released.

One last thing to note: When you’re severely dehydrated, it’s key to get fluids or water-filled foods into the body as quickly as possible. However, you don’t want to overdo it. It’s possible to drink too much water, resulting in a condition called hyponatremia. This is when sodium and electrolytes in the blood are so low that they can be life-threatening.

As Dr. Ben Stein of GoHealth Urgent Care stated in a CBS interview, “Some patients are just over compensating based on the information they’ve heard.” But this can result in more harm than good. Knowing how much fluid is adequate for your body’s weight and lifestyle can help.

Dehydration in Children

While all individuals can suffer from dehydration, infants and children are particularly prone. This is because their bodies contain more water than adults, so they’re more vulnerable to dehydration. Since their kidneys aren’t fully mature, they lose more water than they retain. Young children also often have difficulty recognizing and communicating their need for water.

In addition, infants and children are at higher risk for illnesses like fever, vomiting or diarrhea, which can be the cause of dehydration. What makes dehydration in children worse is that illnesses make it even more difficult to retain fluids when administered to reverse the effects of fluid loss.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends oral rehydration solutions for the treatment for dehydration. Such solutions can be purchased at your local grocery store or drugstore, and contain the right amount of salts and sugars needed to rehydrate infants and children. Because they don’t contain the proper salts and sugars, soda (including ginger ale), fruit juice, and chicken broth are not advisable.

Dehydration in the Elderly

As with infants and children, elderly people are also at higher risk for dehydration. Some elderly people can become chronically dehydrated if they take certain medications (such as diuretics). They can also metabolically have a diminished sense of thirst or physically have a difficult time getting a glass of water.

Signs of dehydration you should look for in the elderly include low blood pressure, confusion, dizziness and constipation. Urinary tract infections, which are common in older adults, can also cause dehydration. If symptoms become severe, make sure you take your elderly relative to the emergency room.

Winter Dehydration

There’s a strong link between humidity levels and human health, according to a study from the U.S. National Library of Medicine. But that doesn’t mean that dehydration is just a hot-weather concern. During the cold winter months, sweat evaporates quicker and this can lead individuals to believe they’re not losing fluids as rapidly as on a warm summer day. However, this is not the case.

Cooler temperatures can also reduce the body’s thirst response, meaning you might be less likely to consume water. And you know how you can often see your breath in the cold air? This is actually water vapor your body is losing that needs to be replenished.

Tips for Staying Hydrated

The best way to avoid excessive fluid loss is to prevent dehydration in the first place. By following a few, quick tips, you can be one less American with chronic dehydration:

  • Splurge on a reusable water bottle – When something’s right in front of you, it’s hard to ignore. Having a fun water bottle by your side can make it even more exciting to drink water morning, evening and night. Remember, it’s better to drink slowly than gulp it all down at once.

  • Forget plain water – Not sure how you’ll come close to drinking your fill of fluids throughout the day? Try adding natural ingredients to your water, like fresh strawberries, cucumbers, or orange or lemon slices. There are also plenty of flavored seltzer waters out there for you to choose from.
  • Eat more water-filled foods – While fruits and vegetables are good for you because of all their nutrients—including vitamins, minerals and fibers—they also contain large amounts of water. In fact, cantaloupe, watermelon, leafy greens, and tomatoes all contain 90% water!
  • Switch up your snacks – Instead of reaching for pretzels, crackers or cookies, chose fresh or frozen fruits with yogurt or cut-up veggies with hummus when your blood sugar runs low. Paired with protein, these fruits and vegetables can give you the added boost to get through your afternoon.
  • Make small lifestyle changes – If you exercise a lot, you might need more than water. Take a sports drink or coconut water for post-workout. Plus, avoid alcohol consumption if you’re already feeling dehydrated as this increases your fluid loss.

Want to test your knowledge of staying properly hydrated? Take this drinks quiz.

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Dehydration is the medical term for what happens when the body loses more fluid than you take in. The human body loses water by sweating and producing urine, so you must replace the lost fluid by drinking water and other beverages. People with diabetes also have an increased risk of becoming dehydrated due to high blood sugar which can cause frequent urination.

Causes of Dehydration

  • Fever
  • Heat exposure
  • Too much exercise
  • Vomiting, diarrhea and increased urination
  • Certain diseases such as diabetes
  • Inability to drink
  • Sun burns or mouth sores

If you have any of the following symptoms of dehydration, visit Our Urgent Care for immediate treatment.

  • Increased thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Diarrhea and vomiting
  • Excessive sweating
  • Lethargy
  • Dry mouth
  • Muscle weakness
  • Dizziness or headache

Severe dehydration causes additional symptoms.

  • Low blood pressure
  • Sunken eyes
  • Reduced perspiration
  • Increased heart rate
  • Fever

Fluid Replacement vs. IV

Intravenous fluids replace the fluid lost through sweating, vomiting, diarrhea and frequent urination. These fluids often contain potassium, glucose, and sodium, which are electrolytes your body needs to function normally. You may also need to replace lost fluids by drinking sports drinks or sipping clear broths or plain water. Caffeinated beverages promote fluid excretion so you should avoid them if you have any symptoms of dehydration.

Dehydration Dangers: Can Dehydration Kill You?

December 19, 2017

  • in Hydration Tips by Tina Lee-Almazar

Most people think dehydration is just a minor ailment, a harmless condition that many don’t think much about. The fact is, water deficiency is not an ordinary ailment. Yes, it is quite preventable but it can be deadly when a person won’t drink enough water every day.

In the UK, about 30% of people admitted to hospitals are chronically dehydrated. According to The Guardian, about 223 people die from thirst in care homes and hospitals every year. That translates to about two patient deaths each day due to dehydration! In the US, more than 160 people died due to high temperatures in 2006 alone. Just goes to show that water deficiency could be downright dangerous.

Why is dehydration so dangerous and what can you do about it? In today’s post, let’s take a look at the most often-overlooked dehydration dangers and what you can do to avoid them:

Dehydration Dangers: Why You Should Stay Hydrated All The Time

When you are not getting enough water every day, your body is unable to control its core temperature. When the body temperature is unbalanced in any way, the rest of the organs suffer. This problem becomes worse when the climate is hot. As the core temperature rises, your body literally cooks from the inside and out. Because the body is unable to control its own core temperature, the organs will slowly shut down. This leads to heat-related syndromes. Heat-related syndromes can affect the brain, kidneys, and the heart.

We’ve already outlined the dangerous of heat-related ailments. Heat stroke, in particular, has claimed thousands of lives worldwide. Unfortunately, heatstroke-related deaths are on the rise in the US, where the majority of the adult population is chronically dehydrated. If you are engaged in strenuous activities, you have to stay hydrated to keep your body temperature normal. Of course, you don’t have to lead an active lifestyle to hydrate. Drink a minimum of 8 glasses of water every day to prevent heat stroke.

Photo Credit: thelist.com

Heart Disease

The cardiovascular system is one of the first body systems to take a hit when body fluids are depleted. When you are not getting enough fluids, the blood loses volume. When the blood loses volume, the heart works harder to circulate the thick blood all over the body. The added pressure on the heart causes the blood pressure to rise. As the heart struggles to pump blood all over the body, the arterial wall is subjected to intense pressure too. Sustained and elevated blood pressure leads to cardiovascular diseases.

Studies show that blood viscosity is a risk factor for coronary heart disease. Dehydration is proven to elevate the risk of heart ailments. The same study noted that patients who drink more water were less likely to develop heart disease compared to patients who were dehydrated.

Drinking more water helps thin out the blood, easing the pressure on the heart. When the heart is not struggling to circulate blood all over the system, the arterial wall is not subjected to intense pressure. At the same time, the heart won’t sustain tissue damage from circulating viscous blood all over the body.

Kidney Failure

Dehydration is one of the main causes of kidney disease and kidney failure. The kidneys filter out wastes from the blood. These organs require a steady flow of oxygenated blood to work properly. When the kidneys are not getting enough oxygenated blood due to low blood volume, they are unable to filter wastes as efficiency. As the toxins build up in the system, the organs start sustaining damages. All these could lead to acute kidney injury.

If you failed to drink more fluids even when the kidneys sustained serious tissue damage, the condition will lead to kidney failure. When the kidneys fail, the body is no longer able to purge toxin buildup within the system, leading to hospitalization, even death. Kidney disease can be fatal but is preventable and reversible. As long as you are drinking enough fluids every day, your kidneys will work at their peak.

Photo Credit: Dreamstime.com

Hypovolemic Shock

One of the most serious and sometimes fatal complications of dehydration is hypovolemic shock. This condition is a complication of severe water deficiency. It occurs when the blood volume becomes dangerously low. When the blood pressure is too low, the oxygen level within the system drops too. When the body systems are not getting enough oxygen, they will shut down, organ by organ, cell by cell. As the organs shut down, the body goes through hypovolemic shock.

Just like kidney disease, hypovolemic shock is completely preventable. Just drink as much water as you can each day to reduce your risk of developing life-threatening complications such as hypovolemic shock.

Conclusion

Dehydration kills and dangers lurk at every corner when you’re not getting enough fluids every day. Keep the body and mind healthy by drinking up and avoid common dehydration dangers!

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Can I die by dehydrating myself and how long will it take me to die from dehydration?

Before moving forward with any plan to dehydrate yourself to death I strongly encourage seeking the help of a mental health professional. Making yourself dead is one of those decisions which should not be taken lightly and which once acted upon is difficult to reverse.

The “survival rule of three” claims you will cease after 3 minutes without air, three days without water and three weeks without nourishment. However, in light of so many interesting stories regarding human survival, I tend to think the ratio may not be all that accurate.

Also, aside from the estimated time needed to reach death from dehydration I understand being deprived of water causes enormous physical discomfort, though starving to death must be a close second.

If you remain committed, and to accomplish more complete dehydration of yours or any other corpse, consider an air tight enclosure such as that used for drying wood. The more contemporary devices do not rely entirely upon heat. Rather they uses strong dehumidifiers and air circulation to pull moisture from the enclosed space. Wood placed within such a kiln can often reach moisture content of between 5 and 10 percent within weeks. Though starting moisture content of human remains is significantly greater than any form of wood, given time I imagine similar results may be achieved.

Dehydration

Dehydration occurs when your body loses more fluid than you take in.

When the normal water content of your body is reduced, it upsets the balance of minerals (salts and sugar) in your body, which affects the way it functions.

Water makes up over two-thirds of the healthy human body. It lubricates the joints and eyes, aids digestion, flushes out waste and toxins, and keeps the skin healthy.

Some of the early warning signs of dehydration include:

  • feeling thirsty and lightheaded
  • a dry mouth
  • tiredness
  • having dark coloured, strong-smelling urine
  • passing urine less often than usual

A baby may be dehydrated if they:

  • have a sunken soft spot (fontanelle) on their head
  • have few or no tears when they cry
  • have fewer wet nappies
  • are drowsy

The body is affected even when you lose a small amount of fluid.

Read more about the symptoms of dehydration

What causes dehydration?

Dehydration is usually caused by not drinking enough fluid to replace what we lose. The climate, the amount of physical exercise you are doing (particularly in hot weather) and your diet can contribute to dehydration.

You can also become dehydrated as a result of an illness, such as persistent vomiting and diarrhoea, or sweating from a fever.

Read more about the causes of dehydration

Who is at risk from dehydration?

Anyone can become dehydrated, but certain groups are particularly at risk. These include:

  • babies and infants – they have a low body weight and are sensitive to even small amounts of fluid loss
  • older people – they may be less aware that they are becoming dehydrated and need to keep drinking fluids
  • people with a long-term health condition – such as diabetes or alcoholism
  • athletes – they can lose a large amount of body fluid through sweat when exercising for long periods

What to do

If you’re dehydrated, drink plenty of fluids such as water, diluted squash or fruit juice. These are much more effective than large amounts of tea or coffee. Fizzy drinks may contain more sugar than you need and may be harder to take in large amounts.

If you’re finding it difficult to keep water down because you’re vomiting, try drinking small amounts more frequently.

Infants and small children who are dehydrated shouldn’t be given large amounts of water alone as the main replacement fluid. This is because it can dilute the already low level of minerals in their body too much and lead to other problems.

Instead, they should be given diluted squash or a rehydration solution (available from pharmacies). You might find a teaspoon or syringe can be helpful for getting fluid into a young child.

If left untreated, severe dehydration can be serious and cause fits (seizures), brain damage and death.

Read more about treating dehydration

When to see your GP

See your GP if your symptoms continue, despite drinking plenty of fluids, or if you think your baby or toddler is dehydrated.

If your GP suspects dehydration, you may have a blood test or a urine test to check the balance of salts (sodium and potassium) in your body.

Contact your GP, out-of-hours service or NHS 24 111 service straight away if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • extreme thirst
  • feeling unusually tired (lethargic) or confused
  • not passing urine for eight hours
  • rapid heartbeat
  • dizziness when you stand up that doesn’t go away after a few seconds

You should also contact your GP if your baby has had six or more episodes of diarrhoea in the past 24 hours, or if they have vomited three times or more in the past 24 hours.

Looking for the best drink to fight dehydration? It turns out there are quite a few options when it comes to filling your body back up with water and electrolytes. Whether you’re looking for post-workout replenishment or trying to keep your body hydrated during a bout of the stomach flu, these options will help you feel better.

1. Water

As you can imagine, water is one of the best drinks to fight dehydration. Drinking water throughout your workout helps replace the water you’re losing by sweating. It’s also key to drink when you’re not feeling well. And, no matter where you are or what you’re doing, you’ll probably be able to find a glass of water.

2. Electrolyte-Infused Water

What’s even better than water? Water with electrolytes. When you’re dehydrated, you’re depleted of electrolytes that help your kidneys function—drinks like Smartwater and Trader Joe’s Alkaline Water Plus Electrolytes can come to the rescue and ward off a headache or other mild dehydration-related issues.

3. Pedialyte

Pedialyte is an advanced, medical-grade hydration formula containing the key electrolytes potassium, sodium, and chloride designed to restore your body’s sugar and electrolyte balance. Good for both children and adults, Pedialyte gets you on the fast track to feeling better, especially when you’re sick with a stomach flu or other illness.

4. Gatorade

A favorite of athletes and workout warriors, Gatorade is chock full of electrolytes—but it’s also high in sugar. Sugar, in this case, is not all bad: it’s actually helping your body absorb the electrolytes more efficiently. Plus, Gatorade does have an option with less calories and sugar called G2 for those watching their sugar intake.

5. Homemade Electrolyte-Rich Drink

With the right ingredients, you can whip up your own electrolyte-infused drink. The key is including sugar, salt, and plenty of water. This delicious lemon-ginger electrolyte drink recipe calls for ginger, lemon, lime juice, agave, sea salt, and mineral water.

6. Watermelon

It’s not a drink, but watermelon is 92% water. Any time you eat watermelon, you’re getting water and a hefty dose of vitamin A, vitamin C, and electrolytes.

7. Coconut Water

Coconut water is nature’s version of a sports drink. It contains five main electrolytes: potassium, magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, and sodium. Like a sports drink, coconut water also has sugar. What’s the difference, then? A store-bought sports drink has up to four times as much sodium as coconut water, but it also contans high-fructose corn syrup instead of natural glucose and fructose.

What to Avoid When You’re Dehydrated

On the other end of the spectrum you’ll find drinks that can actually make you more dehydrated. Namely, drinks with caffeine or alcohol. Avoid reaching for coffee, tea, and soda, no matter how refreshing it looks. As for alcoholic beverages, keep this in mind: the higher the alcohol concentration, the more dehydrating the drink—that’s why it’s important to always drink water alongside your cocktail!

Symptoms of Dehydration

Not sure if you’re dehydrated? In addition to thirst, these are the tell-tale symptoms of dehydration:

  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Dry Mouth
  • Irritability
  • Constipation
  • Dark-colored urine
  • Dry skin

Dehydration can be illness-related, due to the vomiting and diarrhea caused by a stomach flu and food poisoning. Dehydration can also be caused by exercise, heat, or even travel. The next time you’re feeling dehydrated, grab any of the above drinks to get your body back in balance!

Dehydration

Path to improved health

Your body is made up of 55%-60% water. You need to drink a lot so it can carry out its normal functions. The average adult needs about 3 quarts of water every day. When you don’t get enough water because of illness or for other reasons, you may start to experience dehydration.

Causes

Common causes of dehydration in healthy adults include:

  • sweating too much (especially in hot weather)
  • fever
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea.

Symptoms

Symptoms of dehydration depend on your age and how badly dehydrated you are.

Signs of dehydration in babies or young children include:

  • dry mouth and tongue
  • crying without tears
  • no wet diapers for 3 hours or more
  • high fever
  • sunken eyes
  • being unusually drowsy or sleepy.

Signs of mild to moderate dehydration in adults include:

  • feeling thirsty
  • dry or sticky mouth
  • dry skin
  • not urinating much
  • darker yellow urine
  • headache
  • muscle cramps.

Signs of moderate to severe dehydration include:

  • dizziness or light-headedness
  • irritability or confusion
  • rapid heartbeat
  • rapid breathing
  • listlessness
  • delirium
  • fainting or unconsciousness.

Treatment

Mild to moderate dehydration can usually be treated at home. Here are things you can do to feel better.

  • Sip water.
  • Suck on ice cubes or ice pops.
  • Slowly drink a sports drink that contains electrolytes.
  • Don’t drink anything with caffeine, including coffee, tea, or colas. Caffeine may cause you to urinate more.

Moderate to severe dehydration needs medical attention. Go to an emergency room or call 911. Untreated severe dehydration can cause seizures, permanent brain damage, and even death.

Call your family doctor if you’re not sure if your symptoms are serious enough to go to the hospital.

Prevention

In general, adults can prevent dehydration just by drinking when they are thirsty. Eating foods high in water content, such as fruits and vegetables, also helps.

Know the causes of dehydration. Drink more fluids when you need to, including when:

  • The weather is hot, especially if you’ll be outside.
  • You are exercising or sweating a lot.
  • You have a fever, diarrhea, or are vomiting.

Don’t wait for signs of dehydration to start drinking more. Plan ahead and always make sure you have access to plenty of water.

When to go to the Emergency Room for Dehydration

At times, we have all felt the effects of dehydration and there are some symptoms you should not ignore. Severe dehydration can lead to death, making it important for you to seek medical treatment right away should you experience certain symptoms.

Palpitations/chest pains

If you are dehydrated and begin to feel chest pains, you should go directly to the emergency room. These are not your typical pains; they are pains where it feels like an elephant is sitting on your chest or that your heart is going to beat right out of your chest. These are symptoms of a possible cardiac event as a result of being dehydrated and should be treated immediately.

Lack of urine

Urination is necessary for the natural release of fluids. When you urinate, not only is your body disposing of excess fluids but the toxins in your body as well. It is vital that your kidneys and bladder are working together all of the time to ensure that the toxins are gone or they can lead to more serious conditions. If you or a loved one has gone more than 24 hours without urination, it is important to go directly to the emergency room. This is an early sign of renal failure and only a doctor can offer IV fluids that are necessary to get you hydrated again.

Causes of dehydration

Another element that determines the extent of your dehydration could be what caused it in the first place. For instance, if you have been outside in the heat all day and did not drink enough water, it is likely you will feel thirsty. On the other hand, if you have been outside all day with no fluids and are feeling chest pains and vomiting, then you should seek help immediately.

If you continue to vomit for longer than 24 hours then you should go to the emergency room right away.

If you experience these symptoms, you may be suffering from extreme dehydration. It is vital you visit the emergency room as soon as possible to be treated. If you are experiencing these extreme symptoms, then Physicians Premier ER can help. Visit our locations page to find a location nearest to you: https://mdpremier.com/locations/

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