Dehydration and Dehydration Symptoms

Dehydration is loss of body fluid, especially when the loss is more than intake of fluid. Due to loss of fluid more than the intake, there is not enough water in the body to carry out normal activities of the body and problems appear as a result. If adequate fluid (along with electrolytes) is not replaced in due time, dehydration occurs and may turn into a medical crisis.ID-10074717

Dehydration commonly occurs due to hot and humid weather, when there is profuse sweating, especially if you have done physical exercise, diarrhea, vomiting, fever, excessive sweating etc. Not drinking adequate water during summer is also common cause of dehydration, especially among elderly persons, young children and persons with chronic disease.

Dehydration can be divided into three categories mild, moderate and severe dehydration, depending on the amount of fluid loss in proportion to body weight. Mild and moderate dehydration can be easily corrected at home by drinking adequate fluids (especially ORS or oral rehydration salt solution). However, severe dehydration need immediate medical intervention and replacement of suitable intravenous fluid by intravenous route, containing electrolytes. To be safe from dehydration, during summer one need to be watchful about fluid intake and output and take adequate fluid along with electrolytes for replacing the lost fluid and electrolytes.

What are the symptoms of dehydration?

Symptoms of dehydration depends on the severity of dehydration. Mild and moderate dehydration may have following symptoms:

  • Dry mouth and dry skin
  • Thirst
  • Tiredness, lethargy, sleepiness,
  • In case of children they may be less active than usual, few or no tears when children cry, no wetting of diapers for few hours
  • Urine output is decreased
  • Headache, dizziness, lightheadedness
  • Constipation

Symptoms of severe dehydration include:

  • Extreme thirst
  • In children (infants) anterior fontanel is sunken, they become irritable, extreme sleepiness
  • Confusion in adults
  • Eyes are sunken
  • Dryness of mouth, skin and mucous membrane
  • No or very little urine production and the color of urine is much darker than usual
  • Skin becomes dry and loses its elasticity and does not bounce back when pinched into a fold
  • Blood pressure is usually low, pulse rate rapid, and rapid respiration/breathing
  • Fever
  • When a baby cries there may not be any tear
  • In serious cases unconsciousness and delirium.

The above mentioned symptoms may not be present in all cases of dehydration, especially among elderly individuals, children and among patients with chronic illness. Hence, it is important to keep a watch of fluid intake and output during summer, especially for vulnerable people. For infants and children number of wet diapers is a good indicator for dehydration and for adults’ color of urine is good indicator of dehydration. A light color of urine means you are well hydrated and dark color of urine indicates dehydration and need of extra fluids, especially fluids containing required electrolytes, such as oral rehydration salt/solution.

Image courtesy of [rakratchada torsap] at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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