Dehydration is a serious medical condition that can occur when the amount of body fluids (primarily water) lost is more than the amount taken in. Your body is not getting replenished at a quick enough pace, and you feel this on a cellular level. Because water is so vital to so many bodily functions, dehydration can cause the body to lose its ability to function normally, which causes a variety of unpleasant symptoms, and can be fatal.
How Does Dehydration Happen?
Every day, we lose water, from the vapor that escapes out of our breath to the water in our sweat, urine, and feces. We also gradually lose small amounts of electrolytes. Our bodies are constantly working to balance the losses and gains of water that occur at each moment. When your body cannot maintain this balance because you are not taking in enough fluids, it results in dehydration. Dehydration is split into three stages: mild, moderate, and severe dehydration. It is possible to reverse mild or moderate dehydration by taking in electrolyte-rich fluids. However, if left untreated, moderate or severe dehydration can result in death. There are several reasons why someone might become dehydrated.
- Fever, heat exposure, or too much physical activity
- Vomiting, diarrhea, and excessive urination because of infection
- Inability to seek food or water (such as in the case of disability)
- Lack of safe drinking water
- Inability to drink water (such as in the case of a coma)
- Severe injuries (from losing more water out of damaged skin)
Symptoms of Dehydration
The symptoms of dehydration range from mild to severe and can include:
- Increased thirst
- Dry mouth
- Less frequent, lower volume, or yellower urination
- Inability to cry tears
In addition to the symptoms above, symptoms of severe dehydration can include:
- Inability to urinate; very little to no urine is produced
- Severe dizziness that impairs mobility
- Decreased blood pressure
- Racing heartbeat
When You Need Medical Intervention
Sometimes, the mild symptoms of dehydration will go away when you drink water and consume electrolytes. However, if you are experiencing the following symptoms, it is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible.
- Fever between 101 and 103 F
- Diarrhea for more than 48 hours
- Weight loss
- Lower volume urination
One must go to the emergency room for dehydration if they experience any of the following symptoms:
- Constant or frequent vomiting for more than 24 hours
- Fever more than 103 F
- Trouble breathing
- Chest pain
- Inability to urinate
Fortunately, dehydration can be treated relatively easily if it is caught soon enough. At home, there are certain things you can do to help with mild dehydration.
- Take small sips of water
- Drink sports drinks or other electrolyte-enhanced beverages
- Suck on ice cubes
- Suck on popsicles
- In the case of overheating, keep cool
Sometimes, home remedies are inadequate, and medical attention is required. In this case, the treatment will focus on restoring fluids and electrolytes, sometimes through the use of IV hydration therapy. At the office of L.A. Quinn, M.D., we offer IV hydration therapy so you can make sure that your body is staying in balance. Contact us today to learn more!