In general, when people say they're dehydrated, they mean their bodies aren't retaining enough fluid for normal activities. They may feel thirsty because their blood volume has decreased due to low sodium (salt) levels in their bloodstream. If someone loses too much salt, he or she becomes hyponatremic — meaning his or her blood pressure drops below safe limits.
When too much water is lost, bodies may become dehydrated and out of balance. When it is too severe, death can occur.
The Cause of Dehydration in Adults
There are so many conclusions that can cause fluid loss, and that can lead to eventual dehydration. They include:
- Diseases like diabetes
- Diarrhea, vomiting, and infection cause an increase in urination.
- Heat exposure, fever, or a lot of exercises
- Lack of safe drinking water
- Impaired drinking ability like the case of a person on a respirator or a coma
- Inability to seek food or water, like in the case of a person who is disabled
- Injuries to the skin that are significant such as because of mouth sores, are very serious infections on the skin and diseases. The damaged skin may cause greater water loss.
Signs of Dehydration
They can be severe or very minor and can include:
- Swollen tongue, or dry mouth
- Increased thirst
- Decreased output of urine
- Inability to sweat
- Change in color of urine. If your urine is concentrated with a deep amber or yellow color, you may very well be dehydrated.
When to Ask for Help
A doctor needs to be called if a dehydrated person has the following experiences:
- Decrease output of urine
- Weight loss
- Diarrhea going for over two days
- Fever that is above 101 degrees F
You need to take the person to an emergency room at the nearest hospital if the following happens:
- No urine in 12 hours
- Abdominal or chest pains
- Difficulty in breathing
- A fever that is above 103 degrees F
Exams and Tests
Your doctor may perform some tests that are easy for him/her to conduct, or he/she might refer you to a laboratory where they'll test your urine or blood.
Examinations and tests can help the doctor identify the cause or causes leading to dehydration.
A fever, an increase in your heart rate, low blood pressure, and a fast breathing rate can indicate dehydration and other kinds of illnesses. A person's pulse in a lying position and after standing up can determine how far the dehydration has really gone.
The clarity and color of your urine and the gravity of urine can also help know the degree of dehydration. The presence of ketones signifies that you are dehydrated.
Self-Care in case of Dehydration
If you notice that a person is dehydrated even if they have been vomiting, you need to encourage them to take some fluids in the following ways:
- Sipping some small water amounts at a time
- Drinking some electrolyte drinks. Sports drinks like Gatorade or some replacement solutions can be a great idea.
- Sucking of the popsicles that are made from sports drinks and juices
- Sucking on some ice chips
- Sipping something in a straw, especially for someone who has mouth sores or jaw surgery
In case of heat exposure, you must cool the person if the temperature is elevated. You will need to loosen the clothing and remove any excess.
You can use air-conditioned rooms to return the body temperature to normal levels and break the heat exposure cycle.
You can also place the person in the shade or near fans if there is no air condition.
Rob is a Certified Sports Nutritionist from the International Society of Sports Nutrition. Besides being a writer, he's also a lifestyle coach. His expertise includes healthy and natural weight loss, nutritional supplements, and fitness nutrition. His practice philosophy is simple. He provides nutrition education and support in his coaching to get people excited about food and eating well with better choices! It doesn't have to be boring, excessive, or anything but “what a rabbit eats” to lose or gain weight, or whatever your goal is. He utilizes scientific research and the latest information so everyone can obtain their goals and sustain a healthy lifestyle beyond their intervention.