You must have experienced one of those hot scorching days in summer when you’re sweating profusely and feel parched, weak and out of balance. That is a clear case of dehydration which is defined as a condition when the body experiences rapid and continued loss of fluids and water in breathing, sweat, urine and stool besides salts more than the intake and which can be fatal for the body.
Some popular causes of dehydration are:
- Fever, exposure to the hot sun and too much physical activity
- Vomiting, diarrhoea and frequent urination due to infection
- Physical inability to eat and drink (differently-abled cases)
- Impaired ability to drink (coma or life-support cases)
- No access to safe drinking water
- Skin diseases/infections or injuries such as burns and mouth sores
Commons symptoms which range from severe to minor are:
- Very thirsty, Dry mouth and swollen tongue
- Fainting and Weakness
- Confusion and dizziness
- Little to no sweat
- Low and concentrated urine output
- Weight loss
When to call your doctor:
- Fever over 101 degrees Fahrenheit
- Non-stop diarrhoea that last 2 days
- No urine output in the last 12 hours
- Faster breathing and decreased blood pressure
- Chest and abdominal pains
- Constant vomiting over a day
- Fainting, Headaches and seizures
Doctors will run some mandatory exams and tests before deciding the treatment:
- Check vital signs – temperature, pulse, heart-rate, breathing and blood pressure.
- Take urine and blood samples to probe and rule out any underlying infection or cause.
- Medics will focus on restoring body temperature, blood volume and body fluids to normal levels; in serious cases, fluids are given through IV tubes.
- If condition improves, the patient is sent home with prescribed medications and advice of rest and recovery under the care of family, friends or caregivers which include constant hydration with electrolyte replenishment, staying in air-conditioned environments and wearing loose and light clothing.
- If condition deteriorates, the patient has to undergo additional treatment.
- Follow-up visit as instructed or should a relapse happen.
Prevention is the only way to beat dehydration:
- Planning the day ahead and avoiding peak hot hours between 11 am and 4pm.
- Never step out in the sun without a hat/cap, umbrella and a water bottle.
- Advance or postpone any physical activity to early hours of the day or late evening hours when the sun has come down.
- Wear light and loose clothing.
- Avoid alcohol, caffeine and any aerated drink.
Once you identify the cause of dehydration, it is fairly easy to manage and recover. This summer, take adequate measures to keep yourself hydrated and avoid dehydration at all costs.