Dehydration occurs as a result of an excessive depletion of water from the body. Dehydration can happen to anyone, at any age, but is especially dangerous in infants and the elderly. Mild dehydration is easily treatable by drinking and replacing fluids.
In the adult male, approximately sixty-five percent of the body's mass is made up of water. Essential bodily processes such as circulation of the blood, excretion by the kidneys and sweating, need to be maintained, and this is not possible if there is a drastic loss of fluids. Cells will dry out and malfunction.
Common Causes Of Dehydration
A varying amount of fluid is lost through normal daily functions, depending on factors such as the level of activity and heat. When an excess loss of fluid occurs, dehydration will result.
Dehydration occurs mainly from:
- Poor intake of fluids
- Excessive loss of fluids through sweating or increased activity
- Excessive loss of fluids through nausea and vomiting
- Excessive loss of fluids through diarrhea
- Excessive loss of fluids through increased urination
How To Prevent Dehydration
In order to prevent dehydration, fluids must be taken in sufficient quantities to replace fluids lost during the course of the day.The eight by eight rule has been fairly well adopted as a guideline for daily fluid intake, where the goal is to drink drink eight, eight-oz. Glasses, or at least 64ozs., of fluid per day, in order to prevent becoming dehydrated.
Symptoms and signs of dehydration
A valuable method of assessing dehydration in is by gently pinching up an area of the skin on the abdomen. On releasing, it should immediately return to normal, but when dehydration is present the skin fold takes much longer to return.
Extreme thirst is typical in the early stages of dehydration, however, with severe dehydration there is also increasing weakness and lethargy and the urge to drink may actually be lost.
Symptoms and signs of dehydration can include:
- Extreme thirst
- Dry or chapped lips
- Dry mouth
- Sunken appearance of the eyes
- Muscle cramps
- Low blood pressure
- Loss of consciousness
Taking extra fluids by mouth is the obvious immediate treatment for mild cases of dehydration, so the drinking of water or other liquids is recommended. The replacement of lost electrolytes along with the fluids is also very important.
When to see a doctor
Dehydration can lead to serious medical complications, so unless it is a mild case where the person responds to fluids, they should be evaluated by a doctor. If the person is unconsciousness or unable to drink, you must call 911 immediately get emergency medical assistance so fluids can be administered intravenously. If someone's skin feels cold to the touch, if they appear dizzy or disorientated, if they have chapped lips, dry mouth or low blood pressure, they need immediate medical attention. Vomiting and diarrhea can easily lead to dehydration, especially in the case of infants and older people, if this condition persists for more than a few days, you should see a doctor as intravenous rehydration may be necessary.
Medfast Urgent Care Centers offer fast, professional medical treatment for dehydration. Our average wait time to see patients is less than an hour, compared to Hospital Emergency Rooms, which can sometimes take longer than three to four hours and are much more expensive. We are professionally staffed with highly-skilled, licensed doctors and nurses, and fully equipped to handle testing and treatment for dehydration.