Dehydration occurs when you lose more fluid than you take in, and your body is not intaking enough water and other fluids to carry out its normal bodily functions. If you do not replace these lost fluids, it will result in you being dehydrated.
Signs of dehydration in children are severe and symptoms include diarrhea and vomiting. Adults naturally have a lower volume of water in their bodies, due to later health conditions or taking medications. Meaning that even minor illnesses, like infections affecting the lungs or bladder, can affect older adults making them easily dehydrated.
Those who exercise consistently, can become very dehydrated by not drinking enough water during hot seasons. You can reverse mild signs of dehydration by drinking more fluids daily, but severe signs of dehydration would need immediate medical treatment.
Thirst isn't always a reliable sign of the body's need for water. If you're thirsty your body has been dehydrated and your body is telling you it's running low on fluids to function. Try not to get to that point if possible. Many people, particularly older adults, don't feel thirsty until they're already dehydrated. That's why it's encouraged to drink 8 cups of water a day.
The signs and symptoms:
- Extreme thirst
- Less frequent urination
- Dark-colored urine
- Diarrhea and Vomiting - diarrhea can cause a tremendous loss of water and electrolytes in a short amount of time along with vomiting. If you experience vomiting or diarrhea, you are losing a tremendous amount of fluids and minerals.
- Fever - In general, whenever you are sick your temperature will rise and the higher your fever, the more dehydrated you will become. That is why it's encouraged to drink fluids when you are sick.
- Excessive Sweating - When you are sweating you are losing water from the body. If you do vigorous workouts and activities and don't drink fluids to replace that sweat, you can become easily dehydrated. Hot weather increases the amount you sweat and the amount of fluid lost.
- Increased Urination - People who are undiagnosed or have uncontrolled diabetes are more likely to urinate more often. Certain medications, and even blood pressure medications, can lead to dehydration. Reason being, the medication generally causes a person to urinate more often than normal.
- Heat Injury - If you don't drink enough fluids when you're exercising and perspiring heavily, you may end up with a heat injury. This is when mild heat cramps occur due to heat exhaustion or heat stroke.
- Urinary and Kidney Problems - Prolonged or constant dehydration can lead to urinary tract infections, kidney stones, and kidney failure.
- Seizures - Electrolytes help carry electrical signals from cell to cell. If your electrolytes are off, the electrical messages that transport through the body can become mixed up. This can lead to involuntary muscle contractions and sometimes to a loss of consciousness.
- Low Blood Volume Shock - This is critical and sometimes life-threatening. It occurs when your blood volume is low and causes a decrease in blood pressure and in the amount of oxygen in the body.