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14 Signs and Symptoms of Dehydration

What is Dehydration?

Dehydration is a condition in which the body loses the essential body fluids. Not just the fluid of the body, but also the essential salts or electrolytes and minerals from the body are lost in the process. When the water and essential minerals are lost, the energy of the body to perform necessary functions is reduced. This water is lost through stools and urine.

Dehydration can strike any person but it is especially a cause of concern when it strikes to children, infants and pregnant women. Young kids and infants may not be able to bear the loss of electrolytes and water. It may lead to extreme weakness which the children may not be able to cope up with.

As for pregnant women, the child is enclosed in amniotic sac which consist water as its major component. If the pregnant woman loses the water from the amniotic sac, it may lead to complications in the pregnancy.

Causes of Dehydration:

Dehydration may be caused due to a variety of reasons. The following are a few of the causes of dehydration:

  • Fever or exposure to heat
  • Too much work or exercise
  • Continuous Vomiting and dehydration which may be caused due to a variety of reasons. One may experience dehydration due to consumption of unhealthy food or water. Eating junk food also causes dehydration especially in monsoon season which is the season of growing microbes around. This season is one in which germs and bacteria grow at a rapid space and one has to be very careful while eating outside food in this weather.
  • Diseases such as diabetes also lead to dehydration problems. A person who has diabetes has too much discharge of urine. Until such a person starts to take medication for the disease, he/she may experience dehydration due to excessive urination.
  • No access to safe drinking water. Water is the major medium of spread of diseases. If one is unable to access drinkable water, he/she may contract water borne diseases like typhoid, cholera and diarrhea.

14 Signs and Symptom of Dehydration:

The signs and symptoms of dehydration vary according to the age group of the person who is affected by it. The symptoms vary for adults and children.

The symptoms among adults are as under:

  1. Feeling of Thirst:

You may fail to realize that you may not be drinking as much water as is needed by your body. If struck by dehydration, you may feel extremely thirsty. The loss of water from your body needs to be replaced by intake of more water.

  1. Dry or sticky mouth:

When you feel thirsty and do not drink water to compensate for the loss of your body, your mouth may also feel dry and sticky.

  1. Infrequent Urination:

If you have lost water from your body through diarrhea or water loss due to any other reason stated above, you may not feel like going to pee much since your body doesn’t have much water to lose. This is a sign of dehydration.

  1. Dark Yellow colored Urination:

When the body loses water, the urine is generally concentrated of various salts and impurities excreted from the body. Thus the color of the urine is yellow. If your urine appears to be extremely yellow in colour, you may want to check out for dehydration or any other related disease as well with your doctor.

  1. Dry Skin:

The skin of your body appears to be very dry and you may also notice peels coming off. This condition indicates less moisture in the skin which could be due to dehydration.

  1. Experiencing Headache:

One may experience headache due to loss of water. Also if a person suffers dehydration due to food poisoning or chronic diarrhea, these complications may lead to headache problems as well.

  1. Muscle Cramps:

When the body loses too much water, the muscles may become stiff. Also as we earlier mentioned, dehydration causes weakness in body. Due to all these reasons, the body may experience cramps in the muscles.

In cases of severe dehydration, a person may experience the following symptoms:

  1. Feeling Dizzy:

A person with severe dehydration may experience dizziness and may also collapse and faint. This happens when the body loses its essential nutrients along with the water leading to acute weakness.

  1. Sunken eyes:

Your eyes seem to have sunk and dark patches appear below the area of your eyes. This could be due to sleep deprivation.

  1. Fatigue/ Lethargy:

Due to dehydration, you may feel extremely tired and may not be able to carry on simple tasks. This also happens because of the body’s inability to consume food at such times. The digestive system may not co operate in such a scenario and thus you may not be able to eat too much. Being completely reliable on the liquids, your body may not be supplied with sufficient nutrients to carry on basic activities. This condition may persist until the nutritional levels stabilize and you are able to consume some solid foods.

Symptoms of Dehydration among Kids/Infants:

As we discussed earlier, children and infants feel the effects of dehydration far more severe than normal adults. The symptoms amongst kids are as under

1. Dry Mouth/ Tongue:

The tongue appears visibly white and may also look very dry. This happens when the body has lost water due to dehydration.

2. No tears while crying:

You may notice that your child is crying too much due to discomfort but there are no tears. This is certainly a sign to look out for.

3. Dry diapers for 3 hours or more:

An average child would dirty his/her diaper after every 2-3 hours normally. If you see that their urination has decreased, this could be due to low water level of water.

4. Sunken Soft Spot on top of the Skull:

The portion of the top of the skull may seem to be softer than usual due to dehydration.

Treatment for Dehydration:

In normal circumstances, dehydration is accompanied by some or the other more severe illness like diarrhoea. The doctor not only treats the illness but also tries to first grab a control over the situation of water loss from the body. He ensures that your body doesn’t lose excessive water and that you can balance the already lost water and electrolytes with medicines and other fluids. The doctors generally suggest ORS powder to be added to water and consumed to cope with dehydration. This powder contains glucose and essential salts to help you to balance the loss of electrolytes and minerals and also to provide you with energy.

In case of severe loss of water, you must rush to your family doctor without delay in order to prevent any complications. Also, if you notice any symptoms among infants, it will require immediate medical attention.

You could avoid dehydration by drinking distilled water and consuming healthy food. Dehydration is not such a serious problem if dealt with in time. Your timely attention towards your health could save you from serious troubles. You may thus bring it to immediate notice of your doctor in case you experience severe symptoms like any of those stated herein above.

Shabnam Vandeliwala

Venturing into writing is my second most admired hobby after litigating in courts. An advocate by profession, writing gives me immense sense of satisfaction especially in the time that I'm free from other work.

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