Dehydration is a condition that occurs when a person loses more fluids than he or she takes in. It is not as serious a problem for teens as it can be for babies or young children. Untreated dehydration generally results in delirium, unconsciousness, and in extreme cases death. It can be caused by losing too much fluid, not drinking enough water or fluids, or both. Vomiting and diarrhea are common causes. Infants and children are more susceptible to dehydration than adults because of their smaller body weights and higher turnover of water and electrolytes. The elderly and those with illnesses are also at higher risk. Symptoms may include headaches similar to what is experienced during a hangover, a sudden episode of visual snow, decreased blood pressure, and dizziness or fainting when standing up due to orthostatic hypotension. The symptoms become increasingly severe with greater water loss. Dehydration is best avoided by drinking plenty of water. The greater the amount of water lost through perspiration, the more water must be consumed to replace it and avoid dehydration.
The risk from dehydration is particularly great in babies, infants and older people. Therefore, if they have the symptoms of dehydration, it is vital that they are treated immediately. Severe dehydration is a life-threatening medical emergency. Infants with blocked noses who have trouble feeding can be helped by flushing their nostrils with saltwater, or saline, nose drops and suctioning out the mucus with a bulb syringe. Fever, which can be a factor in dehydration in any infectious disease, can be controlled with medications or room-temperature sponge baths and dressing the child in light clothing. Symptoms of mild dehydration include thirst, decreased urine volume, abnormally dark urine, unexplained tiredness, lack of tears when crying, headache, dry mouth, and dizziness when standing due to orthostatic hypotension. Dehydration can also occur if you do not eat or drink much during an illness or if you do not drink enough during or after strenuous exercise. The best way to assess the severity of dehydration is to measure changes in body mass. Blood and urine analysis can also be used to indicate the extent of dehydration.
Prevention of Dehydration
- Even when healthy, drink plenty of fluid every day. Drink more when the weather is hot or you are exercising.
- When you're going to be outside on a warm day, dress appropriately for your activity. Wear loose-fitting clothes and a hat if you can. That will keep you cooler and cut down on sweating.
- If you're participating in sports or strenuous activities, drink some fluids before the activity begins.
- Staying away from caffeine in coffee, sodas, and tea can also help you avoid dehydration.
- If you have a stomach bug and you're spending too much time getting acquainted with the toilet, you probably don't feel like eating or drinking anything. But you still need fluids. Take lots of tiny sips of fluids.
Home Remedies for Dehydration
- Sip pickle juice beforehand to prevent dehydration.
- Drink a cup of water with 1/4 teaspoon salt, 3 teaspoons sugar, and 2 teaspoons lime juice.
- Avoid Fruit juices, apricots, peas, pears, peaches, plums, prunes, etc.
- Chew a few pieces of the inner lining of pomegranate with salt, and/or drink pomegranate juice.
- Hot weather is another common cause of dehydration in the elderly. Always use an air conditioner or fans in hot weather.
- Apply heat to the abdomen to help relieve pain, cramps, and tenderness. Electric heating pads, moist heat wraps, and water bottles can all be used as needed.
- The patient may have ice chips by mouth or sips of water frequently.