What is dehydration and how can it be prevented?
In the summer months, when temperature and humidity increase, fluid needs are higher than in other seasons. In order to keep its temperature balanced against the air temperature, the body releases its excess heat through faster breathing, sweating and urination. Approximately 65% of the human body consists of water. An adult person loses an average of 2.5 liters of fluid per day. In addition to fluid loss, minerals such as sodium, calcium and potassium, which regulate the body’s electrolyte balance, are also excreted. Under normal conditions, the body can replace the fluid and electrolytes it loses by consuming food and water to maintain fluid-electrolyte balance. Decreases in the body’s total fluid amount are manifested by the feeling of thirst. If the decrease in fluid amount increases, serious health problems may occur.
Definition of dehydration
Dehydration occurs if the amount of fluid required for the body to perform its functions cannot be met. Dehydration, which is roughly defined as the body losing excessive fluid or not taking in enough fluid, is examined in 3 ways: mild, moderate and severe, depending on the amount of fluid lost. Severe dehydration is an important health problem that seriously threatens human life. The degree of dehydration is evaluated by looking at body symptoms as well as urine test, kidney function test and blood tests. Children, infants, the elderly and those with chronic diseases are more susceptible to dehydration. Especially the elderly and babies may face more serious health problems because they cannot accurately tell when they are thirsty.
symptoms of dehydration
People who consume less than the daily fluid requirement have a slower urine flow and an increased risk of urinary tract infections and kidney stone formation. When the increase in fluid loss continues, problems such as low blood pressure and dizziness develop. In case of severe fluid loss, increased pulse rate, kidney failure, muscle cramps and loss of consciousness are observed. All these symptoms can lead to disorders in organs such as the liver, brain and heart, as well as the kidney.
Symptoms of mild dehydration:
- Sensation of thirst
- muscle cramps
- Dryness and coldness of the skin
- Decreased urination and dark yellow urine
- Dry and sticky mouth
Signs of severe dehydration:
- Difficulty urinating and very dark yellow or amber colored urine
- Dryness and wrinkling of the skin
- Confusion, loss of consciousness and irritability
- Increased heart rate and breathing
- squinting in eyes
- Disinterest in surroundings and state of shock
- Low blood pressure, especially when you stand up
Causes of dehydration
The body fluid lost may not be replaced due to simple reasons such as forgetting to drink water during the day or not being able to access healthy drinking water during activities such as hiking, traveling or camping. These fluid losses are causes of mild dehydration that can be replaced immediately. Apart from these, causes of fluid loss:
- Sudden onset of severe diarrhea and accompanying vomiting, which is especially common in infants and children
- High fever caused by infection or sunstroke
- Excessive sweating due to excessive exercise or high temperatures
- Excessive urination due to chronic diseases such as diabetes
- Diseases that cause the kidneys to lose their ability to retain water
- Diuretic, blood pressure and antihistamic drugs
- alcohol use
- Endurance sports such as marathons, climbing, triathlons
The aim of dehydration treatment is to replace lost fluid and electrolytes. Treatment of the disease is determined according to the degree and cause of dehydration. Generally, increasing water consumption is the most appropriate solution for mild to moderate dehydration. Fluids containing electrolytes may be preferred in cases of fluid loss due to excessive exercise. In case of severe dehydration, the patient should be taken to the nearest health institution and the treatment should be performed by a doctor.
Note: For diagnosis and treatment of dehydration, a family judge or internal medicine doctor may be consulted. For dehydration problems in children, it is beneficial to visit doctors who specialize in child health. The fluid and electrolytes lost by the patient are given intravenously, and it is very important to bring the patient to the hospital, especially in vital cases.