Friday, June 3, 2011

Dehydration: Dry as a bone!

Dehydration is a loss of too much fluid from your body. The human body needs water to maintain normal functions. If your body loses much more fluid than you are drinking and eating, you become dehydrated. If the loss of fluid is severe, you can become very ill.

How the body loses fluids:

•    urinate
•    vomit or have diarrhea
•    sweat
•    breathe, especially during rapid breathing
•    over-exert yourself in hot or humid weather
•    have a fever

Causes of Dehydration

The usual causes of dehydration are diarrhea and vomiting. 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. Medicines that control excess body fluid by causing fluid loss (diuretics or "water
pills") are a common long-term cause. Diabetes can also cause water loss. Although anyone can become dehydrated, adults who become dehydrated the most easily are: older adults, anyone who has a fever, people in hot weather, and individuals doing strenuous work or activity.

Symptoms of Dehydration

Mild dehydration:

•    Thirst
•    flushed face
•    dry, warm skin
•    small amounts of dark, yellow urine
•    lightheadedness or dizziness made worse by standing
•    weakness
•    cramping in the arms and legs
•    headache
•    a lack of energy
•    dry mouth and tongue with thick saliva

Severe dehydration:

•    low blood pressure
•    fainting
•    severe muscle spasms in the arms, legs, stomach, and back
•    convulsions
•    a bloated stomach
•    sunken eyes with few or no tears
•    lack of skin elasticity (a bit of skin lifted up takes a long time to go back to its normal position)
•    rapid and deep breathing

Avoid dehydration by:

Drink plenty of liquids. An average adult should drink at least 6 to 10 eight-ounce glasses of liquids that do not contain alcohol (including beer or wine), such as water, juice, or tea each day. One way to tell if you are drinking enough liquid is to look at the color of your urine (pee). It should be light yellow in color.

You can replace fluids and electrolytes by drinking sports drinks or oral rehydration solutions (ORS).

If you have diarrhea or vomiting or you are not drinking much, try to drink more liquids to prevent dehydration.

If you have been vomiting and can't keep liquids down, suck on ice chips or flavored ice until you stop throwing up. You may drink more liquids as your vomiting lessens.

When you are exercising or participating in sports, it is best to drink water some time before starting the exercise or sport. Then drink small amounts of water often during the exercise. Continue to drink liquids after exercise.

Seek medical care if:
•    You feel very dizzy or lightheaded.
•    You feel faint when you stand up.
•    You have continued nausea or vomiting that keeps you from taking in fluids.
•    You have a new fever higher than 101.5° F (38.6° C) orally.
•    You start to have chills, nausea, vomiting, or muscle aches.
•    You pass very little urine or none at all after 8 hours of treatment.
•    Your heartbeat is much faster than usual.
You have any symptoms that worry you.

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