Anybody can become dehydrated if they donâ€™t take care of themselves and drink plenty of water. Being dehydrated happens when there is insufficient water in the body or increased water loss through sweating, vomiting, and/or diarrhea, along with certain medications, can increase urination and dehydration. Older adults have an increased risk of dehydrating because their bodyâ€™s fluid reserves decrease, and their bodyâ€™s ability to signal that they are thirsty does not work as effectively, especially those with memory problems.
Signs of dehydration include:
- Muscle cramps.
- Dry mouth
- Dry cough.
- Flushed red skin.
- Swollen feet.
- High heart rate but low blood pressure.
- Dizziness, weakness, light-headedness.
- Headache, delirium, confusion.
- Loss of appetite with a sugar craving.
- Heat intolerance or chills.
- Dark-colored urine. Urine should be a pale clear color.
Dehydration is categorized as:
- The body needs more fluids to be taken in.
- Drink water
- Drinks containing electrolytes are recommended if experiencing significant sweating or fluid losses from vomiting and diarrhea.
- The body should feel better after five or ten minutes.
- Moderate dehydration requires intravenous hydration.
- This is done in urgent care, emergency room, or a hospital.
- If symptoms of dehydration are severe, call 911 or go to an emergency clinic.
- Severe hydration shrinks the blood vessels in the brain.
- When fluid levels in the brain are low, this affects memory and coordination.
Laboratory tests can diagnose dehydration and include:
- Low urine sodium.
- Elevated plasma serum osmolalityÂ measures particle concentration in blood plasma.
- Elevated creatinine tests kidney function.
- Elevated blood urea nitrogen is also related to kidney function.
The amount of water needed daily is different for all individuals; therefore, it is recommended to check in with a healthcare provider to determine how much is required to maintain health.
Â Body Composition
Enjoy Drinking Water
- Carry a water bottle, keep it filled, and get used to taking sips throughout the day to start a healthy habit.
- Add flavor like a wedge of lemon/lime, lime or lemon juice, or a healthy water additive.
- Choose water or healthy hot or iced tea instead of sugary drinks, including at meals.
- Eat foods high in water content, like fruits and vegetables.
Bhave, Gautam, and Eric G Neilson. â€œVolume depletion versus dehydration: how understanding the difference can guide therapy.â€ American journal of kidney diseases: the official journal of the National Kidney Foundation vol. 58,2 (2011): 302-9. doi:10.1053/j.ajkd.2011.02.395
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Drinking-Water. (www.cdc.gov/healthywater/drinking/nutrition/index.html)
HealthFirst. What Happens to Your Body When Youâ€™re Dehydrated? (healthyliving.healthfirst.org/happens-body-youre-dehydrated/)
Kenefick, Robert W, and Michael N Sawka. â€œHydration at the worksite.â€ Journal of the American College of Nutrition vol. 26,5 Suppl (2007): 597S-603S. doi:10.1080/07315724.2007.10719665
Thomas, David R et al. â€œUnderstanding clinical dehydration and its treatment.â€ Journal of the American Medical Directors Association vol. 9,5 (2008): 292-301. doi:10.1016/j.jamda.2008.03.006
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