What is Dehydration?
Dehydration is a condition when you lose more fluids than you consume, and your body does not have enough water to carry out its functions normally.
If you do not replace lost fluids immediately, you will become dehydrated. You can treat mild to moderate dehydration by drinking plenty of fluids, but severe dehydration requires proper medical care.
Dehydration can affect anyone, but this condition is particularly dangerous for young children and older adults.
In general, dehydration in children can be caused by severe diarrhea and vomiting, whereas the most common cause of dehydration in older adults is due to a lower volume of water in their bodies. Moreover, they may have certain health conditions or take medications that increase the risk of dehydration.
Diseases such as lung and bladder infections can cause dehydration in older adults. Dehydration can also occur in children who are dehydrated during hot weather, especially during vigorous sports activities.
Causes of Dehydration
In some cases, you may be dehydrated simply because you do not drink enough water. It may be because you are sick or busy, or because you do not have access to consumable water while you are traveling, camping or hiking. Dehydration due to sweating, breathing, crying, urinating and bowel movements are normal.
If you lack fluids or do not eat and drink enough, you may become dehydrated. Other possible causes of dehydration are:
- Excessive sweating.
- Frequent urination, which may be due to other health conditions (diabetes and medications such as diuretics that make you urinate more often)
When to See a Doctor For Dehydration
Your doctor can diagnose dehydration based on your symptoms. If you are dehydrated, it can be indicated by low blood pressure. Your heart may also beat faster than normal when you are dehydrated.
For a more accurate diagnosis to determine the severity of your dehydration, you may be asked to undergo a number of tests, such as:
- Blood test
Your blood sample will be tested for a number of factors to identify the cause of dehydration, such as your electrolyte levels and how well your kidneys are working.
Your urine sample will be tested to identify how severe your dehydration is. Through this test, your doctor may also check for symptoms of an infection affecting your bladder.
Symptoms of Dehydration
Thirst is not always a reliable indicator of your body’s need for water. Older adults generally do not feel thirsty until they are already dehydrated. Therefore, it is important to make sure you stay dehydrated during hot weather or when you are sick.
Symptoms of dehydration may differ by age. Below are some common symptoms of dehydration:
Infants and Children
- Sunken eyes
- Feeling unwell
- Dry mouth and tongue
- Sunken fontanel
- No wet diapers for three hours
- No tears when crying
- Extreme thirst
- Dark-colored urine
- Less frequent urination
Treatment for Dehydration
The most effective way to treat dehydration is to replace lost fluids and electrolytes. The treatment option for dehydration may depend on your age, the severity of your dehydration, and the cause.
For young children who are dehydrated from diarrhea, vomiting, or fever, it is best to take an over-the-counter oral rehydration solution. This solution contains water and salt to give your child the right balance of electrolytes and salts.
As for adults with mild to moderate dehydration due to diarrhea, vomiting, or fever – it is suggested they drink more fluids.
If you are spending time outside in hot and humid weather, cold water can be the best choice of drink for you. Sports drinks containing electrolytes and a carbohydrate solution can also help.
Both children and adults with severe dehydration should seek immediate medical attention. Your doctor may provide fluids intravenously which can help speed up your healing process.
Treatment Cost for Dehydration
Treatment cost for dehydration may vary, depending on the type of treatment recommended by your doctor.
For more details regarding estimated treatment costs for dehydration at home and abroad, contact Smarter Health.
Prevention of Dehydration
To prevent dehydration, you should drink plenty of fluids and eat lots of fruits and vegetables. You may become dehydrated due to the following conditions:
- Vomiting or diarrhea
If you or your child has diarrhea and vomiting, drink more water or take an oral rehydration solution as you notice signs of dehydration.
- Strenuous activities
It is recommended for you to drink enough water before you engage in any strenuous physical activities. Clear urine is an indication that you are well-hydrated. Be sure to take a break in between exercise and drink water.
- Hot or cold weather
You need to drink more during hot and humid weather to help lower your body temperature and replace lost fluids. You may also need extra fluids in cold weather to combat moisture loss from dry air, especially if you live at a high altitude.
- Certain diseases
Older adults may often become dehydrated while suffering from several illnesses, such as influenza, bronchitis, or bladder infections. Make sure to drink more when you are not feeling well.
Home Remedies for Dehydration
It is vital that you keep yourself well-hydrated at home. It is very important to have dehydration treatment at home. Encourage yourself or those who are dehydrated to drink more water in the following ways:
- Suck on a few ice cubes.
- Sip small amounts of water
- Suck on popsicles made from juices and sports drinks.
- Consume carbohydrate or electrolyte-containing drinks
- Drink with a straw. This works especially well for someone who has had jaw surgery.
In case someone shows any signs of heat exposure or has an elevated body temperature, the following are some ways to cool the person down:
- Remove excess clothing and wear loose clothing.
- Air-conditioned rooms are best for helping to restore body temperature to normal.
- If available, use a spray bottle to spray warm water on skin surface to help with cooling by evaporation.
- If there is no air conditioning, increase cooling by placing a dehydrated person near a fan or in the shade (if outdoors). Place a wet towel around the person.
- Avoid exposing skin to excessive cold temperatures, such as an ice pack or ice water. This can cause the blood vessels in the skin to constrict. Excessive cold exposure can also cause shivering, which will result in elevated body temperature. This may worsen the symptoms of dehydration
Have more questions about mild to severe dehydration? Write them down in the comment section below.