Dehydration can occur if there is fluid loss in the body. The symptoms of dehydration can manifest and they are categorized as mild or severe. For the mild symptoms, it includes dry mouth, dry skin, increased thirst, diminished tear and urine production, headache, constipation and lightheadedness. When it comes to dehydration, it is important to seek emergency care if an individual develops the following symptoms.
• Blood-streaked stool
• Severe diarrhea
• Inability to keep fluids down
• Diarrhea for 3 days or more
Before starting any tests, the doctor will check the symptoms in order to rule out other conditions. After the medical history is taken, the doctor will check the vital signs, including the blood pressure and heart rate. A rapid heartbeat and low blood pressure indicates dehydration.
A blood test is performed it check the level of electrolytes in order to determine the degree of fluid loss. The blood test can also be used to check the level of creatinine. This will help determine how well the kidneys are functioning. A urinalysis is performed to check for the presence of bacteria and the loss of electrolytes.
How dehydration is treated
The treatments for dehydration include electrolyte replacement, rehydration methods and treating vomiting or diarrhea if required.
Rehydration methods typically include the replacement of fluids by drinking or intravenously. Individuals who suffer from diarrhea or vomiting will be given fluids intravenously as a replacement for the bodily fluids that are lost.
Those who can drink are given an electrolyte rehydrating drink such as Gatorade. As for children, they are given Pedialylte to drink. In case Gatorade is not available, you have the option to create your own rehydration solution by using ½ teaspoon of salt, 1 liter of water and 6 teaspoons of sugar. Make sure that you will follow the accurate measurements. Take note that using too much sugar or salt can be dangerous.
Just remember not to treat yourself using caffeine, soda and other sweet drinks. The consumption of these drinks will only make the dehydration worse.
Possible complications if dehydration is not treated
Dehydration that is not treated right away can lead to life-threatening complications such as:
• Heat cramps
• Heat stroke
• Heat exhaustion
• Kidney failure
• Low blood volume
In case you are sick, the important first aid measure is to increase your fluid intake especially if you have diarrhea or vomiting on a regular basis. If you could not hold down liquids, it is best to consult your doctor.
When exercising or playing sports, you have to drink 1-3 cups of water before starting. Replace fluids at regular intervals during the workout. During the summer months, wear cool clothes and avoid being exposed to direct heat if possible. Even for inactive individuals, it is important to drink the recommended amount of fluids.