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Dehydration | WiSE Specialist Emergency Clinic
Dehydration

Dehydration

What is Dehydration?

Dehydration occurs when the body has insufficient water to allow for proper bodily functions this generally occurs when an individual loses more fluid than they are consuming. While mild dehydration can be uncomfortable, severe dehydration can lead to blood clots, seizures and can be potentially fatal.

Cause of Dehydration?

Normally the body will lose fluid daily through sweating, breathing, urinating, tears and saliva. These fluids are usually replaced through the intake of fluids and food that consume water. However, in some circumstances, an individual’s water output is higher than their intake and can, in turn, lead to dehydration.

This can occur through:

  1. A Fever
  2. Diarrhea
  3. Vomiting
  4. Excessive sweating – through exercise or exposure to warm environmental conditions
  5. Exposure heat due to long periods of extreme weather conditions
  6. Urinating more than usual – Diabetes or some medications such as diuretics can cause this

Signs and Symptoms

  1. Feeling thirsty
  2. Fatigue or dizziness
  3. Foggy thinking and poor concentration
  4. Infrequent urination – dark, concentrated urine
  5. Back or joint ache
  6. Constipation
  7. Mood swings
  8. Bad Breathe
  9. Dry Skin
  10. Muscle Cramps
  11. Fever and chills
  12. Food cravings, especially sweets
  13. Headaches

How to tell if you are dehydrated

  1. Skin Test – With two fingers pinch the skin on the back of your hand, the skin should bounce back within a few seconds. If it takes longer this is the one of signs of dehydration
  2. Urine Test – When you are well hydrated your urine will be mostly clear, with a hint of yellow. When dehydrated your urine is a will be a darker yellow or even brown and generally will have a small of ammonia. If the later you are on your way to dehydration and should start consuming water as soon as possible.

Complications from dehydration

  1. Kidney Failure
  2. Coma
  3. Shock
  4. Heat-related illness
  5. Electrolyte abnormalities

Treatment of Dehydration

In severe cases, the only treatment is to seek medical assistance in which fluid is administered to an individual orally or through an intravenous drip (IV). Orally involves the intake of fluids generally water slowly and in small sips.

For less severe cases treatment can be through the intake of clear fluids such as water or through medications such as Hydralyte that contain electrolytes

Prevention

  1. Stay indoors and out of extreme environmental conditions such as temperatures over 40 degrees Celsius.
  2. Children and the elderly are more susceptible to dehydration due to poor temperature regulation. Attempts should be made to keep children and the elderly indoors in extreme heat conditions.
  3. Regular intake of water. The average individual should consume 3litres a day, more if physical activity has been undertaken.

Please note: excessive drinking of plain water can lead to diluting body electrolytes in patients where kidney functions are impaired.