Dehydration: Causes, Symptoms, and Prevention
Every day, 10,000 children across the world die from dehydration. In the United States, the children and the elderly are at an increased risk of suffering from severe, deadly dehydration. The rate of dehydration deaths in the country rise especially during summer heat waves.
With climate change wreaking havoc on temperatures, in the summer of 2018, Texas and the Southwestern United States are slated to experience record-breaking heat this year. To stay safe during the summer months, stay hydrated. Always have access to clean, safe drinking water when outside, and learn to recognize the signs of dehydration before it’s too late.
- Dry mouth and extreme thirst
- Sunken eyes and cheeks
- Listlessness, irritability
- Dry skin
- Muscle cramps
- Fever and chills
- Dark colored urine
- Inability to urinate or produce tears
- Dizziness and confusion
During the early stages of dehydration, the body starts holding onto any excess moisture. People in the early stages of dehydration will experience increased thirst, dry mouth, and darker urine. However, note that thirst isn’t always a reliable early indicator of the body’s need for water. Many people, particularly older adults, don’t feel thirsty until they’re already dehydrated. That’s why it’s important to increase water intake during hot weather or when you’re ill.
As you ‘lose’ body water without replacing it, your blood becomes more concentrated and, at a point, this triggers your kidneys to retain water. The result: you urinate less. The thicker and more concentrated your blood becomes, the harder it is for your cardiovascular system to compensate by increasing heart rate to maintain blood pressure. Less water also hampers the body’s attempts at regulating temperature, which can cause hyperthermia (a body temperature greatly above normal). Eventually, the body begins to divert blood away from the kidneys and gut. Organ damage will occur.
Recognizing the signs of dehydration can be essential in protecting yourself and others. If a dehydrated person doesn’t get to an emergency room and rehydrate immediately, they will experience kidney and liver failure and die.
Learn to recognize the signs of dehydration before organ damage sets in. If you believe someone is suffering from dehydration, have them sip small amounts of clear liquids. Sometimes, a person is unable to rehydrate orally. In this case, take them to your local Physicians Premier emergency room immediately. They will need intravenous fluids to reverse dehydration and prevent organ damage. With care from our experienced physicians, those who get treatment for dehydration before it becomes deadly will make a full recovery.