Dehydration

Dehydration is when more fluids leave the body then the amount taken in.

We lose water every day in different forms and along with the water we lose small amounts of salt. We lose water through: sweat, urine, stool, and breath as we exhale. When our bodies lose more than the amount taken in our bodies become unbalanced and dehydrated. Severe dehydration can lead to death.

Dehydration can occur when you stop drinking fluid or are unable to retain fluid due to: vomiting, excessive sweating, exercise or diarrhea.

Dehydration affects all ages but is most dangerous to the elder, infants and small children.

Symptoms:

  • Dry, sticky mouth
  • Thirst
  • Few or no tears when crying
  • Dry skin
  • Sleepiness/tiredness (children will be less active then normal)
  • Decrease urine output
  • Headache
  • Dizziness/lightheadedness
  • Confusion
  • Weakness
  • Fainting
  • Inability to sweat

When to seek medical attention:

  • Little or no urination
  • Sunken eyes
  • Low blood pressure
  • Rapid heart beat
  • Rapid breathing
  • Fever
  • Diarrhea for more than 2 days
  • Weight loss
  • Increased/constant vomiting for more than a day

Hospital attention is needed:

  • Seizures
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Chest or abdomen pains
  • Fainting
  • Delirium or unconsciousness

At home treatments:

12 and older:

  • Stop activity and rest
  • Take off extra clothes
  • Get out of direct sunlight
  • Lie down in the shade or an air-conditioned environment
  • Replace your fluids by drinking a rehydrating drink (non-alcoholic/non-caffeinated). Examples are water, sports drinkand juice.
  • Drink 2qts (10 glasses) of cool liquids over 2 to 4 hours
  • Rest for the next 24 hours
  • Continue to drink fluids
  • Sip in small amounts
  • Suck on popsicles made from juices or sports drinks
  • Avoid exposing the skin to extreme cold (i.e., ice packs or ice water)

*You may feel better after only a few hours, however; it may take up to a day and a half to completely replace the fluids you lost

Children, Newborns & Infants:

  • Consult a doctor

Prevention:

  • Avoid exposure and strenuous activity during high heat index days
  • Listen to weather forecast and warnings
  • Plan ahead
  • Take extra water
  • Encourage fluid replacement
  • Ensure that you are replacing fluid at a rate in which you are losing it
  • Avoid alcohol consumption when very warm as alcohol increases fluid loss
  • Wear loose fitting/light colored clothes
  • Carry a personal fan/mister to cool yourself
  • Break up your exposure to hot temps
  • Allow yourself to cool between exposure

*Follow up with a physician if dehydration has occurred