Water is an essential component of the human body. Your body is made up of 60% water. Your body fluids like saliva, tears, blood, etc. are highly made up of water thus making it a vital factor for humans to survive. It also regulates several body mechanisms such as maintaining your body temperature, preserving homeostasis, and regulating blood pressure levels. Dehydration can definitely affect the human body system in a matter of hours.
Dehydration is a medical condition wherein your body loses significant amounts of water or body fluids. It can either be insufficient intake of water or loss of body fluid. It is a serious malfunctioning of the body system that needs immediate care and intervention. It can be life threatening at times depending on a given situation. Children are at higher risks because they have less body weight and are likely to suffer from diarrhea. The older generations are also at risk because they lose their ability to conserve fluids as they age. There are 3 major types of dehydration namely mild, moderate and severe. Some of the causes of mild dehydration include acute diarrhea, sweating, excessive alcohol consumption, fever and vomiting.
Any disease that can deplete bodily fluids will eventually lead to dehydration if not taken into serious consideration. Overexposure to hot and warm climates can also lead to dehydration. It is also one of the major adverse effects of abused diuretic intake.
Mild to moderate dehydration can be characterized by thirst, dry mouth and mucus membranes, reduced urine output (dark amber colored), muscle cramps, elevated pulse rates and sometimes restlessness. Here's how to look out for signs and symptoms of severe dehydration:
- Rapid breathing
- Inability to stand or walk
- Loss of consciousness
- Little or no urination for more than 12 hours or longer
- Weak, rapid, and thready pulse
- Poor skin turgor
- Cold, clammy skin or hot, dry skin
- Severe anxiety, delirium and confusion
- Faintness that cannot be alleviated by lying down
- Lightheadedness that resumes after standing for 2 minutes
- Low blood pressure
- Deep-set tired eyes
- Dry mouth and excessive thirst
If not promptly treated, severe dehydration can lead to fatal complications like:
- Kidney failure
- Hypovolemic shock (a sudden drop in blood pressure levels)
- brain swelling
- Coma and death (in worst case scenarios)
Mild to moderate form can be treated at home by drinking more fluids in copious amounts and by giving electrolyte replacement solutions. However, when it comes to severe forms of dehydration, you need to seek medical help immediately. Medical treatment for severe cases would usually include aggressive infusion of intravenous fluids for the first few hours, oral electrolyte replacements as tolerated and continuous monitoring of the patient and hospitalization. Patients are also tested for several laboratory procedures to determine if dehydration was caused by an underlying medical condition.
Perhaps the best way to avoid dehydration is to prevent its occurrence. Make sure to drink at least six-eight glasses of water every day. Drink to a healthier you!