Dehydration – Signs, Symptoms, and Prevention
What is Dehydration?
Dehydration is excessive loss of fluid from the body. Also known as water loss
This happens when our bodies are not consuming enough water or fluids to account for the water that is lost.
Common causes of dehydration are as follows:
Vomiting and diarrhea (especially in infants and children)
Medications that cause increased urine output (ie: diuretics)
Excessive sweating with prolonged exercise or exertion
Decreased water intake
Exposure to heat (ie: Elevated temperature in Summer time)
Signs of Dehydration:
Dehydration can occur in people of any age. Younger children and infants may not be able to recognize or verbalize when they are thirsty. It is important to be aware of the various symptoms that may be exhibited with dehydration. When any human feels the thirsty sensation they are already dehydrated. The following are common signs of dehydration to be aware of for both adults and children:
Muscle Tiredness or Fatigue
Decreased Cognitive Processing ( ie: hard to concentrate or process information)
Confused or lacking awareness
Less urinating and dark colored urine
IN CHILDREN AND INFANTS:
In infants the soft spot at the top of the skull becomes sunken in
Crying without tears
Less urination ( in infants no wet diaper for 3 hours)
Mouth and tongue appear dry
Cheeks and eyes appear sunken
Prevention of Dehydration:
When you feel thirsty your body is already dehydrated. It is important to remember to drink water throughout the day even when you do not think you need it. Some tips to help keep optimal hydration are as follows:
- Try to drink 64 ounces of water a day.
- Drink from a refillable water bottle or glass so you can keep track of the amount you are consuming, while at work or at home
- If water is not palatable to you attempt to make it taste better, add lemon or flavoring to your liking.
- Eat your water. Some suggestions would be to eat apples, cantaloupe, tomatoes, oranges, watermelon, carrots, celery, and cucumbers.
- Start your day with a glass of water before your coffee, this will replace the fluid lost through the night
- Avoid alcohol drinks, they will increase your output
- Avoid caffeine (ie: caffeinated pop, tea, coffee) caffeine is a diuretic and your body will urinate more and increase output of fluids.
- Avoid doing work or strenuous activity at the hottest times of the day
- Take breaks from the heat of summer, do a task, then retreat to air conditioning
- drink fluids, then return to the task at hand.
- Avoid if possible activities during afternoon at hottest point of the day
- Use a hose to cool off while doing tasks outside in the heat.
In summation, excessive heat exposure can cause dehydration, which in turn can cause dangerous conditions (ie: heat exhaustion, and heat stroke) It is important that we pay attention to our bodies signals and stay hydrated, especially during the summer months.
Stay safe, have a great summer!