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A Look at Dehydration

Dehydration occurs when the human body loses fluids, particularly water, to the point where there is more loss than what is consumed. In other words, dehydration occurs when we do not drink enough while our bodies are losing fluids.


Humans lose water through a number of basic activities including headaches, breathing, sweating, urination, and when having a bowel movement. Fluids can also be lost during a high fever, through too much exposure to the sun, vomiting, and after suffering injuries to the skin such as burns or from infections.  With too much fluid loss the body becomes unbalanced and there are medical consequences.


Symptoms of Dehydration

There are many signs of dehydration that should never be ignored. The symptoms can be minor and rapidly increase to serious medical concerns the longer the dehydration goes on. Some of the symptoms include increased feeling of thirst, swelling in the tongue, dizziness, weakness, feelings of confusion, heart palpitations, fainting, lacking the ability to sweat, and decreased output of urine. Medical care should be sought immediately when individuals start vomiting, running a fever above 101 degrees, diarrhea for two days or more, weakness, and decreased production of urine.


Treatment & Prevention of Dehydration

Dehydration should be prevented as much as possible by ensuring you have plenty of fluids to drink during strenuous activities and exercise and when out in the hot sun. Water is the ideal drink to consume. For those who have already started experiencing symptoms of dehydration, it will be necessary to sip water in small increments. Sports drinks like Gatorade can also be beneficial for replacing lost electrolytes. Since dehydration and overheating often go hand in hand, removing excess clothing and seeking a cool environment are helpful to decrease the body’s temperature.


Those who do not treat dehydration at its start may begin to have their symptoms quickly become more severe. Hospitalization may be required to receive IV fluids to restore the body. Fevers may be treated with Tylenol.  Rest will also be required until fluids are properly replenished.