Very few of us go through life without being dehydrated at some time or another. At times dehydration might be dismissed as a minor irritation, but it isindeed something that deserves our full attention and warrants timely treatment.
Dehydration can be defined as loss of water content and essential body salts (electrolytes) needed for normal body functioning.
Learn to recognize and treat the three basic types of dehydration.
Mild dehydration sets in when there is a 5% fluid loss from the body. At this point in time, dehydration is not very dangerous and can be easily cured with re-hydration (i.e. drinking fluids).
Moderate dehydration sets in when there is up to a 10% loss of body fluid. Immediate steps should be taken for re-hydration. The individual should rest in a cool area, and drink several glasses of warm water with electrolytes. The body absorbs warm fluids faster because it does not have to adjust the temperature of the liquid before it can be absorbed at the cellular level.
When about 15% of a persons body fluid is lost, a person is considered severely dehydrated. This should be treated as a medical emergency and may require hospitalization to bring about a normal electrolyte balance.
To enable quick and easy diagnosis, recognize of some of the more common symptoms of dehydration . A person suffering from dehydration will display the following symptoms.
- A dry mouth with sticky mucus membrane
- Decreased urine output
- Sunken eyes
- Wrinkled skin which may lack normal elasticity and sag back into positions
- slowly when pinched into a fold
- Dizziness, confusion and coma
- Low blood pressure
- Severe thirst
- Increased heart-rate and breathing
One of the main causes of dehydration is overexposure to the sun. Outdoor enthusiasts, or anyone who spends long hours in the sun or in places of high temperature run the risk of dehydration. Newborn infants and people over the age of 60 are especially susceptible to dehydration, but anyone may fall victim.
- Always drink plenty of fluids especially when going out in the sun.
- Keep a careful check on intake and outflow of fluids. The human body should never lose more fluids than it is taking in.
- Try to schedule all physical outdoor activities for cooler parts of the day.
- Be prepared by taking plenty of fluids with you for your outing.
- Carry re-hydration salts such as E-merg-N-C, Gatorade, Pedialite or sports drinks.
- Avoid caffinated and carbonated beverages.