Information About Dehydration: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment
Dehydration can be a serious problem but is thankfully one that can be treated quite easily. Basically, it is a lack of requisite fluids in the body. We will go into more detail later on. We need adequate fluids in the body to be able to operate correctly. Dehydration can be caused by many things, and it can be either slight or severe. In the following article we will look at how and why dehydration occurs and what can be done to prevent it. We will also cover subjects such as symptoms of dehydration, how to treat it, and when it becomes serious.
As we have briefly touched upon, dehydration is a lack of adequate fluids in the body. We will talk about the causes later on, but first let’s have a look at how to recognise dehydration symptoms. There are many symptoms that point to dehydration, including the following:
- Tiredness and fatigue
- Dizziness and a light-headed feeling
- Unusual or persistent headache
- Dry mouth, lips and eyes
- Dark yellow urine
- Infrequent passing of urine in small amounts
These symptoms are indicative of mild to moderate dehydration. You will also find that you begin to lose strength and are somewhat listless. Problems begin when you suffer from chronic – that is persistent – dehydration; with chronic dehydration the following may occur:
Chronic dehydration is not a common problem, as the condition can be treated simply if considered carefully. If you do not recognise your condition as dehydration and leave it untreated it can become a serious problem. In cases of serious dehydration the patient may experience the following symptoms, in addition to the above:
- Dry and wrinkled skin
- Problems passing urine
- Sunken eyes
- General irritability
- Low blood pressure and a weak pulse
- A racing heart
- Cold hands and feet
- Fits and seizures
- Low levels of consciousness
- Blood in the stools or in vomit
If you experience any of the above and believe you are suffering from dehydration you should seek medical help immediately.
What Causes Dehydration?
The causes of dehydration are many: it can be a side-effect of illness that involves vomiting or diarrhoea as we lose a lot of liquid this way; it can also be a result of our dietary habits. Let’s have a look at some of the more common causes of dehydration:
- Not drinking enough fluids – we all need to drink plenty water to keep the body hydrated.
- Illness that involves fluid loss; if you are suffering and being sick, for instance, try and keep your fluid intake up.
- Kidney problems can cause dehydration.
- Sweating is a cause; if you are exerting yourself or the weather is hot you need to take on board extra fluids.
- Too much alcohol – a hangover is a direct result of dehydration.
- Diabetes; the excess glucose in the bloodstream can lead to dehydration.
These are all possible reasons why one may suffer from dehydration, but the most common cause is simply overlooking the need for a regular intake of fluids.
When To Seek Medical Care
As dehydration can be a simple case of not having ingested enough fluids, the symptoms for moderate dehydration should not necessitate a visit to a doctor. Simply make sure the patient takes in plenty water – especially if they are suffering diarrhoea or vomiting – and the symptoms should be relieved. However, if symptoms persist – or worsen, to include those in the serious section above – medical attention should be sought straight away.
Exams And Tests
To diagnose dehydration a doctor will ask questions about the patients recent actions, lifestyle, alcohol intake and any illnesses suffered. Blood tests may be taken and a physical examination may follow. It is simple to diagnose and treat dehydration as the symptoms are very clear.
Treatment for dehydration involves replenishing the lost fluids that are the direct cause of the condition. Rehydration can be done at home in simple cases, but should be carried out under medical supervision if you suspect a severe case of dehydration.
If the case is severe there is a need to attend a hospital or doctors surgery. The treatment applied will include the following:
- Rehydration by nasogastric tube – a tube up the nose – for added nutrients
- Rehydration by saline drip
Both of these methods replenish the lost fluids quickly and with great success.
Any medication you are taking should be presented to the doctor, as some can be responsible for cases of dehydration. It is unusual for any direct medication to be applied in dehydration cases, but there may be a need for medicine to stem vomiting and help with diarrhoea.
Self-Care at Home
Sufferers with mild to moderate dehydration can easily be treated at home. Here are some handy tips:
- Keep the patient out of sunlight and in a cool spot
- Make sure they rest
- Keep the feet propped up
- Take in fluids – this can be water, fruit juice, or a sports energy drink which will add extra nutrients. Make sure the patient takes in at least ten glasses of fluids a day. For extra effect, add a teaspoon of salt, two of sugar and one of baking soda to two pints of water, and use this as a rehydration drink.
- Make sure you follow this, including the rest, for 24hours.
- For children, allow them to drink as much as they want an encourage them to have ice lollies and other liquid based treats, but keep them away from energy drinks and the concoction above; simple water is best.
If you follow these tips you should find your dehydrated patient recovers quickly.
As dehydration is largely a self inflicted problem, except when it is associated with other illnesses, common sense can help prevent it. Here are some points to remember:
- If you are exercising are working and start to feel the symptoms stop what you are doing and rest.
- Move out of the sunlight and drink fluids.
- Make sure your feet are propped up to encourage circulation.
- Remove any unnecessary clothes to prevent sweating.
- Always make sure you take in plenty of fluids each day.
- If you drink alcohol, make sure you also have non-alcoholic drinks to replace the lost fluid.
This should help you avoid dehydration.
Can Detox Cause Dehydration?
A detox will only cause dehydration if you do not take in enough fluids. When following your detox programme you should also make sure you keep up your fluid intake. Keep a drink handy at all times, especially when exercising or in the sun.
Can Dehydration Cause Hypertension?
The simple answer is yes: this is why you should make sure you keep up your fluid intake – at least eight glasses a day is the recommended amount – as dehydration can lead not only to hypertension, but to a number of other complications.
We hope that this article has given you some insight into what causes dehydration, how you can recognise it and how to treat a patient who shows symptoms of mild dehydration.