(WINDSOR, ON) – The dangers of dehydration. More than half of the adult human body is made of water. So it goes without saying that water is an essential part of life and health. When your body loses more fluid than it takes in, you’re in danger of dehydration.
Without a balance of fluids, your body parts can’t perform their normal functions. Minor dehydration can be easily remedied by drinking additional fluids, but severe dehydration is a dangerous condition that requires emergency medical attention.
All day long, your body loses fluid through sweat, vapor in your breath, urine, and stool. And all day long, you replenish lost fluid by drinking and eating. There are times, however, when fluid is lost at a faster rate than you can replenish. These include bouts of diarrhoea or vomiting, sweating during hot weather or strenuous exercise, or during a fever. Anyone at any age can get dehydrated, but kids, the elderly, and those chronically ill are at increased risk.
What are the warning signs of dehydration and how can you keep yourself and your family adequately hydrated when at risk?
Mild to Moderate
You’re out cycling on a hot, humid day. The first clue that you could be getting low on fluids is thirst. Your mouth feels parched and sticky and you feel thirsty. Additional signs of dehydration include sluggishness, headache, and dizziness. As time goes by, you may notice you haven’t used the bathroom in a while. When you do, your urine is not a healthy, pale yellow colour.
These are all signs of mild to moderate dehydration. If you’re a healthy adult, you’re still in the safe zone, but you should take these signs seriously. Hydrate yourself by drinking plenty of water or sports drinks to replenish lost fluids. Call your doctor if these symptoms are noticed in a child or older adult.
Severe Danger Zone
When you’ve gone too long without adequate fluids or you just can’t keep fluids down, your body can reach the point of severe dehydration. If this happens, it’s time to get emergency help. Perhaps you have been sick with vomiting or have had a high fever for several days. Regardless of the cause, watch for these warning signs: extreme thirst; dry mouth, eyes, nose, and skin; no sweat or tears when crying; little to no urine output and if there is, it’s dark yellow; skin loses elasticity; blood pressure may be low; breathing may be fast; heart palpitations; fever; a sunken soft spot on a baby’s head; confusion or loss of consciousness.
If you notice any of the above signs of severe dehydration, get to your local emergency department as quickly as possible.
Drink, Drink, Drink
The best way to fend off dehydration is to drink it away. If you’ll be out in the heat, in high altitudes, or doing strenuous exercise, drink plenty of fluids before, during, and after your activity to replace the fluid you lose through sweating. You should also avoid drinking much alcohol, as it increases your loss of fluid and decreases your ability to detect signs of dehydration.
In the event you’re sick or suffering a fever, remember that your body will be losing more fluids than usual. Therefore, begin sipping on water, sports drinks, or Pedialyte at the first sign of sickness. Start with tiny amounts of fluid, and as time passes, if the fluid stays down, slowly increase the amount of fluid. Another alternative is to suck on popsicles or ice chips. However, be careful to avoid sodas, milk, coffee, alcohol, or fruit juices, as these may actually worsen the problem. Finally, keep cool and take action if the signs of dehydration don’t pass or grow worse over time.
Sean Keats is a personal trainer in Windsor, Ontario and helps people who don’t enjoy the typical gym setting get into shape using alternative methods in your home, office, or even local parks. For more information about Sean, make sure to visit his website at www.seankeats.ca.