Water is crucial for our bodies. Roughly 75% of our weight is water, making it vital for our health and well-being. When our body loses more fluid than is being taken in, dehydration can occur, causing our bodies to function improperly. Even when you are taking in water or hydrating yourself, your body is expelling water by sweating, exhaling, and urinating.
Dehydration can have severe impacts on our bodies and health. This is why it is essential we understand the causes, symptoms, and treatments for dehydration, as well as preventative measures we can take to avoid becoming dehydrated altogether.
Am I Dehydrated?
There are several stages of dehydration from mild to severe. What causes dehydration will be different for everyone. However, symptoms may begin the same. When your body becomes dehydrated, it causes your blood to become more concentrated and triggers your kidneys to retain water. Less water also means your body’s ability to regulate temperature becomes difficult and brain function suffers.
Depending on the severity of your symptoms, dehydration can often be treated at home. However, if you experience severe symptoms it’s critical you head to your nearest Urgency Room immediately for medical attention.
Causes of Dehydration
Dehydration has a variety of causes. While it’s normal to lose water from your body’s normal functions, you will generally replace most of the water lost from drinking fluids and eating foods that contain water. Common causes of dehydration can include:
- Excessive sweating
- Urinating frequently
Dehydration can be simply a result of not drinking enough water. But it can also occur from an unrelated illness or condition. When you have a sore throat or an upset stomach, for example, drinking may agitate the pain, causing you to avoid liquids and therefore lose more water than normal. Your body also uses a lot of energy when it fights disease, which means replenishment is that much more important.
Symptoms of Dehydration
There are several signs and symptoms to look out for if you believe you may be dehydrated. Even if you are very mildly dehydrated, you may have symptoms. Symptoms can range from mild to severe. One of the most common causes in young children is diarrhea and vomiting. Older adults naturally have less water in their bodies, and certain medical conditions or medications could increase their risk of dehydration – including minor illnesses.
Mild symptoms include:
- Dry or sticky mouth
- Dark yellow to amber-colored urine
- Muscle cramps
- Thirst or hunger
Severe symptoms include:
- Feelings of dizziness
- Low blood pressure
- Rapid breathing and heartbeat
- Nausea leading to vomiting
- Confusion or irritability
- Significant decrease in urine production.
Severe dehydration can cause your body to lose normal functions and lead to serious conditions such as kidney failure. If you begin to experience any severe symptoms of dehydration, head to the nearest Urgency Room immediately for medical treatment.
The only way to treat dehydration is by replacing lost fluids and electrolytes, but the approach will depend on age, severity, and cause. For infants and children, who are most likely to become dehydrated from diarrhea, vomiting, or fever, you should use an over-the-counter oral rehydration solution. Older children may be given sports drinks diluted half and half with water. Full strength sports drinks have quite a lot of sugar and can make diarrhea worse. Encourage children to take small sips frequently rather than guzzling a lot of liquid at a time.
Adults can treat their dehydration by drinking more water or other liquids. Try to avoid full-strength fruit juices and soft drinks, as they can worsen some symptoms. For adults who have become dehydrated from exercise during hot or humid weather, cool water or sports drinks with electrolytes work best.
If you or a loved one is experiencing severe dehydration symptoms, head to your nearest Urgency Room for quick and effective treatment.
Preventing dehydration is the best way to avoid it during times when you may be at risk. To do so, drink plenty of fluids and eat foods with high water content including fruits and vegetables. For most healthy people, thirst levels can be an adequate guide.
Consider taking in more fluids if you are experiencing any of the following:
- Vomiting or diarrhea
- Strenuous exercise
- Extreme temperatures, hot and cold
- Illness in older adults
Treat Severe Dehydration at The Urgency Room
Dehydration can often be treated effectively at home with oral fluids, however, there are times when symptoms are severe or worsen over time. If you or a loved one is experiencing severe symptoms of dehydration, head to your nearest Urgency Room to be treated quickly and efficiently. Some patients need IV fluids, which can be provided at the Urgency Room. Other patients with less severe symptoms may need medications to help make drinking easier or lessen diarrhea.
We are open 365 days a year at convenient locations in Eagan, Woodbury, and Vadnais Heights. Our board-certified emergency room physicians will be able to see you quicker than in a regular emergency room. Don’t wait to be treated and get back to feeling better at the Urgency Room today!