Occurs when the body loses too much fluid which may occur due to a lack of water intake, diarrhea, vomiting, sweating, or exercise.
It may cause muscle cramps and a feeling of faintness. In severe cases the body does not have enough fluid to get blood to your organs, and may cause shock, which is a life-threatening condition.
It can occur in any age, but it is most dangerous for babies, small children, and older adults.
Babies and small children have an increased chance of dehydration due to the ff.:
- Water comprises a higher percentage of their body
- Higher metabolic rate, leading to an increased usage of water.
- Ability to conserve water via kidneys is less compared to adults
- Underdeveloped immune system, which increases the chance of getting illnesses that cause vomiting and diarrhea.
- When feeling sick, children often will not drink nor eat
- Dependence on caregivers to provide them with food and fluids.
Older adults have an increased chance of dehydration due to the ff.:
- Decreased intake of water because they do not feel as thirsty as younger people.
- Kidney dysfunction
- Incontinence or the inability to control the bladder causes people to drink less
- Presence of physical problems or a disease causing:
- Difficulty in holding and/or drinking from a glass
- Pain when getting up from a chair.
- Difficulty in going to the bathroom.
- Difficulty in informing others about their symptoms
- Intake of medicines that increase urine output.
- Lack of financial capacity to adequately feed themselves.
Early manifestations of dehydration:
- Dry mouth and/or Eyes
- Dark colored urine
- Feeling of crankiness, tiredness, or dizziness
- Inability to produce tears
- Dry skin and slow sagging into place after pinching
Physician may do/request:
History & Physical Exam
- When did the dehydration problem start?
- What activities cause you to feel dehydrated?
- Have you had a hard time getting enough fluids or holding down fluids because of vomiting, diarrhea, or fever?
- If vomiting or diarrhea is causing your dehydration, how many episodes have you had in the last 24 hours? When was the last episode of vomiting or diarrhea?
- Has nausea kept you from taking in enough fluids?
- What prescription and nonprescription medicines do you take?
- Have you been using water pills (diuretics) or laxatives?
- What have you tried so far to help you rehydrate?
- What activities related to sports or work make your symptoms better or worse?
- Do you have any health risks?
Home treatment may be enough to correct mild to moderate dehydration in the early stages. Prompt action is key in the management and prevention of dehydration.
If you become mildly to moderately dehydrated, do the following:
- Stop your activity and rest.
- Get out of direct sunlight and lie down in a cool spot, such as in the shade or an air-conditioned area.
- Elevate your feet, preferably above the level of your heart by lying down and propping your leg on a stool or similar object
- Take off any extra clothes.
- Drink a rehydration fluids, water, juice, or sports drink to replace fluids and minerals. Drink 2 liters of cool liquids over the next 2 to 4 hours. You should drink at least 10 glasses of liquid a day to replace lost fluids.
- To make an inexpensive rehydration solution, mix the following: (Do not give to those under 12 years of age)
- 1 quart water
- ½ teaspoon table salt
- 6 teaspoons sugar
- Rest and take it easy for 24 hours, and continue to drink a lot of fluids. Although you will probably start feeling better within just a few hours, it may take as long as a day and a half to completely replace the fluid that you lost.
For Newborns and babies younger than 1 year of age, don’t wait until you see signs of dehydration. These signs include:
- Baby being thirstier than usual and having less urine than usual.
- If breast fed, encourage nursing more often approximately 1 to 2 minutes for each breast every 10 minutes.
- If bottle to fed, increase the number of feedings to make up for lost fluids. The amount of extra fluid needed depends on the baby’s age and size. For example, newborns may need as little as 30 mL at each extra feeding, while a 12-month-old baby may need as much as 90 mL at each extra feeding.
- Consult your doctor if you need to use an oral rehydration solution (ORS) if the baby still isn’t getting enough fluids from formula or the breast. The amount of ORS your baby needs depends on your baby’s age and size. ORS may be given via dropper, spoon, or bottle.
- If your baby has started eating solids such as strained bananas, mashed potatoes or cereals, you may replace lost fluids with them.