What is dehydration?

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Dehydration typically occurs once the body loses more fluid than what is taken in. The most common cause of water loss from the body is excessive sweating. The recommended amount of water is 8-10 glasses a day for an average individual who is not active. As for athletes and those exposed to high temperatures, they must increase the intake of water to avoid dehydration.

If excessive water is lost from the body, the organs, tissues and cells will fail to function which can lead to complications. In case the dehydration is not dealt with right away, it can result to shock. Dehydration can be mild or severe. For mild dehydration, it can be treated at home with basic first aid while severe dehydration must be treated in the hospital.

Risk factors

Swimmers and body builders can also develop dehydration. In these sports, drinking is discouraged during practice or before competitions, thus resulting to self-induced dehydrated. Individuals who are at high risk of developing dehydration include:

• Elderly
• Workers exposed to excessive heat
• Infants and young children
• Athletes
• Individuals suffering from chronic illnesses
• Individuals who live in high altitudes

How dehydration develops?

Take note that the body loses water regularly through urination and sweating. If the water is not replaced, you will end up dehydrated. The condition is caused by any condition or situation that causes the body to lose more water than usual.

• Sweating is the natural cooling process of the body. If you become too hot, the sweat glands are activated to release moisture from the body to cool it off. Excessive sweating can lead to dehydration since a large amount of water is lost.
• Fever involves the loss of body fluid through the surface of the skin in an attempt to reduce the temperature. In some cases, fever can lead to excessive sweating and if not enough fluids are taken, it can result to dehydration.
• Urination is the body’s way to eliminate toxins from the body. If fluids are not replaced after excessive urination, dehydration can develop.
• Illnesses that cause diarrhea or vomiting can lead to dehydration.

Symptoms of dehydration

The symptoms of the condition tend to vary depending on the state of dehydration, whether mild or severe. The symptoms typically appear before complete dehydration takes place.

One of the symptoms of mild dehydration is sleepiness.

• Dry mouth
• Sleepiness
• Increased thirst
• Decreased tear production
• Decreased urination
• Dry skin
• Dizziness
• Constipation
• Headache
• Lightheadedness

Aside from the mild symptoms, in severe dehydration, it can cause the following symptoms:

• Excessive thirst
• Fast heart rate
• Lack of sweat production
• Low blood pressure
• Fever
• Fast breathing
• Dark-colored urine
• Sunken eyes
• Skin that is shriveled

The symptoms of severe dehydration are considered as medical emergencies that must be treated at the hospital right away. Young children and elderly must be treated immediately even if they are only experiencing the mild symptoms of dehydration.

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