Dehydration occurs when more water and fluids leave the body than enter it and your body doesn’t have enough water and other fluids to carry out its normal functions. If you don’t replace lost fluids, you will get dehydrated.
The human body is roughly 75% water. Without the water, our body cannot survive. Water is found inside cells, within blood vessels, and between cells. The nature made management system keeps our water levels balanced and our thirst mechanism tells us when we need to increase fluid intake.
Although water is constantly lost throughout the day as we breathe, sweat, urinate and defecate, we can replenish the water in our body by drinking fluids.The body can also move water around to areas where it is needed most if dehydration begins to occur.
Thirst is not always a reliable early indicator of the bodys need for water. Many people, particularly older adults, don’t feel thirsty until they are already dehydrated.That’s why it’s important to increase water intake during hot weather or when you are ill.
The signs and symptoms of dehydration also may differ by age.
Infant or young child –
• No tears when crying
• No wet diapers for three hours
• Sunken soft spot on top of the skull
• Sunken eyes, cheeks
• Dry mouth and tongue
• Listlessness or irritability
• Extreme thirst
• Dry mouth
• Less frequent urination
• Dark colored urine
• lack of sweat production
• Low blood pressure
• Rapid heart rate
• Rapid breathing
When to see a doctor –
You should go to the doctor if-
• Had diarrhoea for 24 hours or more
• One is irritable or disoriented and much sleepier and less active than usual
• Has bloody or black stool
• Can’t keep down fluids
Your body regularly loses water through sweating and urination.If the water is not replaced, you become dehydrated.Any situation or condition that causes the body to lose more water than usual leads to dehydration.
Sweating is part of your body’s natural cooling process.When you become hot, your sweat glands activate to release moisture from your body in an attempt to cool it off.The way this works is by evaporation.
As a drop of sweat evaporates from your skin, it takes a small amount of heat with it. The more sweat you produce, the more evaporation there is, and the more you ‘re cooled off.Sweating also hydrates your skin and maintains the balance of electrolytes in your body.
The fluid you sweat comprises mainly salt and water. Excessive sweating can cause dehydration since you lose a large amount of water.
Illnesses that cause continuous vomitting or diarrhoea can result in dehydration. Important electrolytes are also lost through these processess.Electrolytes are minerals used by the body to control the muscles, blood chemistry and organ processes.These electrolytes are found in blood,urine and other fluids in the body. Vomitting or diarrhoea can impair these functions and cause severe complications, such as stroke and comma.
If you have a fever, your body loses fluid through your skin’s surface in an attempt to lower your temperature. Often, fever can cause you to sweat so much that if you don’t drink to replenish, you could end up dehydrated.
Urination is the body’s normal way to release toxins from your body. Some conditions can cause chemical imbalances,which can increase your urine output. If you don’t replace the fluid lost through excessive urination, you risk developing dehydration.Usually it is caused by uncontrolled diabetes, but also can be due to alcohol and medications such as diuretics, antihistamines, blood pressure medications and antipsychotics.
Blood vessels can become damaged, causing fluid to leak into the surrounding tissues.
Risk factors –
Some people have a higher risk for developing dehydration than others, including –
• people working outdoors who are exposed to excessive amounts of heat ( eg. Welders, landscapers, construction workers and mechanics)
• older adults
• people with chronic conditions such as diabetes, kidney disease, cystic fibrosis,alcohalism etc.
• athletes ( especially runners, cyclists, swimmers, soccer players etc.)
• infants and young children
• people who reside in high altitudes
If dehydration is not checked, it can lead to serious complications, these can include –
• Low blood volume –
Less blood produces a drop in blood pressure and a reduction in the amount of oxygen reaching tissues, this can be life threatening.
• Seizures –
due to an imbalance of electrolytes.
• Kidney problems –
including kidney stones, urinary tract infections and eventually kidney failure.
• Heat injury –
Ranging from mild cramps to heat exhaustion or even heat stroke.
A doctor will use both physical and mental examination to diagnose dehydration.
Blood tests are often employed to test kidney function and to check sodium, potassium and other electrolyte levels.
A urine analysis will provide very useful information to help diagnose dehydration. In a dehydrated person, urine will be darker in color and more concentrated – containing a certain level of compounds called ketones.
To diagnose dehydration in infants, doctors usually check for a sunken soft spot on the skull. They may also look for a loss of sweat and certain muscle tone characteristics.
Treatment for dehydration include rehydrating methods, electrolyte replacement and treating diarrhoea or vomitting, as needed.
Rehydration by drinking may not be possible for all people, like those who have severe diarrhoea or vomitting. In that case, fluids can be given intravenously.
To do this, a small IV tube is inserted in a vein in the arm or hand. It provides a solution that’s often a mix of water and electrolytes.
for those able to drink, drinking water along with an electrolyte containing rehydration drink, Such as a low-sugar sports or electrolyte drink, may be recommended.
If an electrolyte drink is not available, you can make your own rehydration solution using –
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 6 teaspoon sugar
• 1 litre water
Avoid soda, alcohol, overly sweet drinks or caffeine. There drinks can worsen dehydration.
Ayurvedic Perspective –
As per Ayurveda, dehydration is a key disorder of Ambu Vaha Srotas. Essentially, dehydration and thirst are due to a combination of pitta and vata vitiation with rasa dhatu depletion and ama and food poisoning.
Beneficial Herbs –
• Chamomile –
• Mulethi –
• Banana –
• Coconut water –
• Butter milk-
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