Dehydration is a condition that can occur when there excess loss of fluids in the body. It simply means that more water is eliminated from the body than what is being taken in. Water in the body is lost in the form of water vapour while exhaling, sweat, urine and stool. Along with the water, there are also small amounts of salts or electrolytes that are lost as well. When the body is dehydrated, it is out of balance. There are three stages of dehydration namely – mild, moderate and severe.
What happens during mild to moderate dehydration?
During mild to moderate dehydration, both can cause a dry and sticky mouth. Among children, they become tired and sluggish. There is also a decrease in the amount of urine produced. As for infants, a diaper could not be soiled even after three hours.
The skin is dry in which there are apparent cracks and flaking. Constipation can also occur which is a condition where the stools are very hard.
What happens during severe dehydration?
With severe dehydration, it can cause extreme thirst. Among infants, they become fussy and sleep most of the time. As for the adults, they become irritable and confused.
Some will have dry mouth, skin and mucous membranes and there is no urine output. The color of the urine if any is usually darker than the normal color. The eyes are sunken with dark circles around the eyes. The skin lacks elasticity since once they are touched, it does not “bounce back”.
In infants they have sunken fontanels or the soft spots in the head. An individual suffering from severe dehydration has low blood pressure. The heartbeat can become rapid as well as the breathing. In severe cases, delirium and loss of consciousness can occur.
How to prevent dehydration
There are various ways that you have to take into consideration in order to prevent dehydration from occurring.
• Drink plenty of water with a minimum of 8-10 glasses per day. You have to drink more during the summer season especially when engaging in exercise.
• Do not drink alcohol and caffeinated beverages such as coffee, tea and soft drinks because they will increase the effects of dehydration in the body.
• When engaging in athletic activities, it is best to drink sports beverages. Sports drinks replace the lost fluids and electrolytes athletic activities. Good examples of sports beverages include Accelerate, Gatorade and PowerAde.
• Drink one pint of water two hours before engaging in athletic activities. The individual must continue to drink throughout any activity about 6-12 ounces of liquid every 15 to 20 minutes.
Always remember that dehydration can be life-threatening if it is left untreated. It is important that you are familiar with the symptoms of dehydration so that appropriate first aid care can be provided as soon as possible.