HEALTH CENTER

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Dehydration by Christine To

What is dehydration? Dehydration is when your body loses more fluids than what it is taking in, causing your body to become out of balance.  This may occur from sweating or ailments that bring on diarrhea and vomiting.  More commonly, dehydration occurs when someone stops drinking water or does not drink enough water.

When your body uses up all of its stored water, you then become dehydrated. Water is an extremely critical element, and staying hydrated is a must when it comes to allowing your body to function normally. Your body weight consists of approximately 75% water; most of it is found in the intracellular space (inside the cells), and the rest of the water found in the extracellular space (outside the cells).

Dehydration can affect people of all ages, but it is most threatening to young children and older adults. These age groups are also more prone to becoming dehydrated.  For instance, children depend on their caregivers to provide them with food and fluids, so if the caregivers are negligent in providing nutrients, then the children are most likely not receiving a sufficient water intake.  Dehydration in older adults may occur because they now refrain from drinking fluids to avoid accidents due to a decrease in bladder control, or because they are simply not as thirsty as they used to be.

Symptoms of dehydration are:

  • Constipation
  • Decreased urine output
  • Dizziness or lightheaded
  • Dry skin
  • Headaches
  • Sleepiness or fatigue

 
Severe dehydration symptoms are:

  • Dry mucous membrane, particularly around the mouth
  • Fever
  • Little or no urination
  • Rapid breathing
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Sunken eyes
  • Very dry skin

 
Dehydration can easily be prevented by drinking the proper amount of fluids, especially during exercise and in hot weather.  It is also important to encourage a person who is sick to drink a lot of water.  To stay fully hydrated, drink plenty of water before and after physical activities.  Also, try to limit alcohol and caffeine consumption; both increase urine output, therefore increasing dehydration.  Lastly, remember to drink for your body, not your mouth.

The information provided is for general interest only and should not be misconstrued as a diagnosis, prognosis or treatment recommendation. This information does not in any way constitute the practice of medicine, or any other health care profession. Readers are directed to consult their health care provider regarding their specific health situation. Marque Medical is not liable for any action taken by a reader based upon this information.