Depending on the severity of the condition, symptoms of dehydration can be mild to severe to even life-threatening. Identifying the symptoms at an early stage can help in treating the condition effectively.
Dehydration is a state when the body gets depleted of water and salts. As you know, water and salts or electrolytes are essential for our body in order to carry out various functions. This condition occurs when there is excessive loss of water from our body. This can occur due to various reasons.
Drinking very less amount of water is one of the most common cause of dehydration. You need to have 8-10 glasses of plain water every day. Failing to do so can lead to depletion of bodily fluids. Similarly, sweating excessively is another major cause; and if a person sweats profusely after exercise, he can get dehydrated. Apart from these, heat exhaustion, high blood sugar, vomiting, diarrhea, consumption of drugs and alcohol, strenuous exercise, etc. are other possible causes. If dehydration is not treated immediately, the person can suffer from shock.
The severity of this condition depends on the amount of fluid lost by the body. In case fluids are not replenished immediately, dehydration can turn severe and even lead to death. Thirst is the most prominent symptom; accompanied with dry mouth and dry skin. Symptoms in children are slightly different from those observed in adults. Sunken eyes, cheeks and abdomen, dry mouth and pitting edema are the symptoms usually found in children.
The common symptoms that are easy to recognize are dry mouth and dry skin. But, one need not panic immediately, as some people normally have a dry skin. Following is a list of other symptoms that are observed in minor cases of dehydration.
- Decreased urine output
- Dark yellow colored urine
- Dry skin
- Increased thirst
- Inability to urinate and sweat
- Loss of appetite
Pitting edema is one of the most commonly observed symptoms in elderly. Pitting edema is a state when the skin does not regain its original shape after pinching. As mentioned above, if fluids and salts are not provided immediately, dehydration can turn severe. Note the potential symptoms to look out for.
- Blotched skin
- Higher body temperature
- Impaired vision
- Low blood pressure
- Muscle spasms / cramps
- Rapid heartbeats
- Rapid breathing
- Stomach / Chest pain
- Sunken eyes
- Tingling hands and feet
- Wrinkled, shrunken skin
Dehydration During Pregnancy
Women experience vomiting and nausea due to dehydration during the first trimester of pregnancy. The following symptoms are also observed:
- Headache or Migraine
- Dark yellow urine
- Dryness and looseness of skin
Treatment: What to Do
Dehydration is often accompanied with vomiting or diarrhea. Therefore, in case a person suffers from either of these conditions, make sure to look for the signs mentioned above. In severe cases, the person should be immediately subjected to medical help. If any severe symptoms are observed or the person is unconscious, it is wise to call for an ambulance. In case you do not identify the symptoms quickly or fail to relate them to dehydration, you should consult the doctor.
✔ If a person shows minor signs of dehydration, he should be given water to drink (in small amounts). It is recommended to have only plain drinking water; and not sports drinks or soda.
✔ If possible, he should be given an electrolyte drink, to recover the loss of fluids and electrolytes.
✔ In case dehydration is caused due to exposure to heat, sweating, etc., the person should be shifted to a cooler environment. You should also make sure that the person does not sweat anymore.
✔ If the person is wearing clothing that will make his sweat, help him get rid of it.
✔ If the person is performing any activity, it should be stopped immediately. He should be made to lie down and rest.
There are a few simple tips that are to be followed in order to prevent dehydration. Drinking sufficient amounts of water every day is the simplest and the most effective way. Plain drinking water should never be substituted with sodas, juices and other drinks. Secondly, if you exercise regularly and vigorously, or work outdoors; make sure you are well hydrated. In case dehydration is caused due to any disorder or medication, it is wise to consult the doctor immediately.
Disclaimer: This article is intended only to provide information. It is recommended to consult the doctor in case any signs and symptoms are observed.