Dehydration: Symptoms,causes, And Treatments

Most people do not realize the importance of water intake to their body. Water accounts for about 50 percent of a women’s weight and 60 percent of a man’s. Water makes up about 99 percent of all the molecules in your body. It is the most common element in the human system. The human body maintains a delicate balance of both water and salt content. The sensation of thirst encourages a person to drink when their body needs water, however under certain circumstances, thirst is not enough to keep the body hydrated.

Dehydration occurs when the amount of water content in your body falls below a normal level. Mineral salts and other substances that dissolve in the body’s fluids, must be kept in balance. In most cases of dehydration a persons salt content, as well as water content has been depleted. An average adult loses 1.5 litres of water in every 24 hour period. In a hot climate an extra 2 to 5 litres can be lost. Working or playing outdoors in hot weather can cause dehydration to come on suddenly. Vomiting and diarrhea can also be a major cause of water loss from the body. Babies and very young children are more susceptible to dehydration because their normal water loss is a higher proportion of their water content.

Signs and symptoms of dehydration include:

Dry lips and tongue

Severe thirst

Increased heart rate

Increase in breathing rate

Dizziness

Confusion

Loss of salt content may include:

Lethargy

Cramps

Headache

The easiest way to prevent dehydration is to increase your water intake. When exercising or working in very hot and humid conditions be aware of the amount of fluids you are losing. Plan to bring along extra water when camping or hiking, a good rule to remember is, when you think you have enough, double it. When suffering from diarrhea, vomiting, and fever, replacing lost fluids can be more difficult. Often you need to drink much more then your desire. Even when vomiting back the fluids you are taking in, a small amount is most likely staying in your system. Every little bit counts.

Once dehydration occurs the fluid in the body must be quickly replaced. Often the salt content needs replacing as well. A mixture of salt and water should be ingested, dissolve 1/4 teaspoon of salt in 0.5 litres of water. If dehydration is sever, hospitalization may be required. While in the hospital fluids can be given intravenously, a much quicker way to replace fluids in the body. When water and salt content are returned to a normal level suffers of dehydration usually make a full recovery.

sources: The Canadian medical encyclopedia

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