Article By Syeda Amtul courtesy Saudi Gazette
As summer has already arrived in Saudi Arabia, the soaring temperatures bring with them the possibility to become dehydrated. Water – as the most essential nutrient in our body – makes up approximately 60 to 70 percent of the body’s weight, so when temperatures rise and the body tries to cool itself by sweating, the risk of becoming dehydrated becomes a real concern.
Dehydration occurs when the body loses too much fluid and though it can happen at any age, it is most dangerous for babies, small children and the elderly.
“In medical terms, dehydration occurs in the human body when it has an inadequate amount of fluid to perform necessary functions properly,” explained Dr. Abdul Majid Wani, a consultant Internist and Gastroentologist at the Hera General Hospital in Makkah. “Once the body loses more than two percent of its normal amount of water, dehydration symptoms begin to present numerous complications. Clinical demonstration of dehydration is most closely related to intravascular volume reduction. If left untreated, dehydration progresses and hypovolemic shock ultimately ensues, resulting in organ failure and death.” He added that severe cases of dehydration have been known to cause death.
According to a recent study, undrtaken by the American College of Sports Medicine, more than 300 people die of heat-related illnesses every year. The study also confirmed that children are more susceptible to dehydration and heat illness than adults and once children become dehydrated, it is almost impossible for them to regain their health.
• Loss of hunger
• Dry mouth and dry skin
• Dizziness or fainting
• Reduced urine production and producing urine that is usually dark yellow in color. In severe cases, there may be no urine output at all.
• Headache or nausea
• Decreased blood pressure
• Flushed face with
• Absence of tears
• Lack of sweating
• In most severe cases, delirium or uncon sciousness
However, a number of medical illnesses may also cause dehydration. According to Dr. Wani the most common cause of dehydration is Gastroenteritis. If both vomiting and diarrhea are present, dehydration may quickly improve though in the case of Stomatitis (an inflammation of the mucous lining of any of the structures in the mouth, which may involve the cheeks, gums, tongue, lips, throat, and roof or floor of the mouth), the pain may severely limit oral rehydration.
Another cause can be Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) where dehydration is caused by osmotic diuresis. Weight loss is caused by both excessive fluid losses and tissue catabolism. Rapid rehydration, especially rapid initial volume resuscitation, may be associated with a poor neurologic outcome. DKA requires very specific and controlled treatment.
Fevers also cause fluid losses and may affect appetite while afflictions like Pharyngitis may decrease oral intake of fluids.
The best way to treat dehydrations is by drinking lot of fluids that will sustain the water level in the body. A dehydrated person should avoid fruit juices, sodas and beverages that contain caffeine.
For those who are dehydrated due to exercise or playing outdoor games under the sun’s scorching heat, cool water is the best treatment. Intake of sports drinks containing electrolytes and carbohydrates is also helpful.
However, severe dehydration should only be treated with the doctor’s recommendations. In some special cases, for instance, rehydration via essential fluids is passed intravenously and not orally. The treatment also depends on the age of the patient, the cause of the dehydration and its severity.
Apart from using an oral rehydration solution such as pedialyte; an ORS solution for children who have diarrhea, vomiting and fever; one can even make his/her own oral rehydration solution by mixing half a teaspoon of salt, half a teaspoon of baking soda and three tablespoons of sugar in one liter of filtered drinking water. However, a doctor should be consulted before using this homemade remedy. Avoid giving dehydrated children salty soups, sodas, boiled milk or fruit juice as it may make the condition worst.
Dehydration occurs when we have a less than optimal level of liquid in the body. 90 percent of our body’s water is found in and around the cells, while the other 10 percent is in the bloodstream. When we lack water, available fluids move from our cells into our blood leaving us with withered cells. This loss of body fluid can direct to increasingly worse symptoms of dehydration: thirst, fatigue, weakness and delirium. Losing just 10 percent of body water can cause severe disorders such as muscle spasms, delirium and wakefulness. A 20 percent loss could actually lead to death, when the inability of the blood to circulate normally ultimately causes kidney failure.
“Water is the main requirement for infants due to their large ratio of surface area to volume, the limited capacity of the immature kidney to handle high renal solute loads, and their inability to communicate their thirst. During pregnancy, 30 ml/d additional water is needed by the woman’s body. During lactation, milk production increases water requirements by approximately 1000 ml/d, or 1 ml for each ml of milk produced. Elderly or aged people also need special attention for water requirements, as they have reduced total body water and blunted thirst sensation, and may be taking diuretics,” Dr. Wani explained