|The Water Jug
Dehydration - Know the causes,
risk factors and symptoms and how to treat
Dehydration means your body does not have as much water and fluids as it should.
Dehydration can be caused by losing too much fluid, not drinking enough water, or both. Infants and children are
more susceptible to dehydration than adults because of their smaller body weights and higher turnover of water
and electrolytes. The elderly and those with illnesses are also at higher risk. Dehydration is classified as mild,
moderate, or severe based on how much of the body's fluid is lost or not replenished. When severe, dehydration
is a life-threatening emergency.
Your body may lose too much fluids from:
~ Excessive sweating (for example, from exercising, working/playing outside)
~ Excessive urine output, such as with uncontrolled diabetes or diuretic use
~ Vomiting or diarrhea
You might not drink enough fluids because of:
~ Loss of appetite due to illness
~ Sore throat or mouth sores
** Dehydration in sick children is often a combination of both refusing to
eat/drink anything while losing fluid from vomiting, diarrhea, or fever.
~ Dry or sticky mouth
~ Low or no urine output, concentrated urine appears dark
~ Not producing tears
~ Sunken eyes
~ Markedly sunken fontanelles in an infant
(the soft spot on the top of the head)
~ Lethargic or comatose (with severe dehydration). CALL
Signs and tests:
~ Low blood pressure
~ Blood pressure that drops when you go from lying down to
~ Rapid heart rate
~ Poor skin turgur
~ Delayed capillary refill
Poor skin turgur - the skin may lack it's normal elasticity and sag
back into position slowly when pinched up into a fold;
normally, skin springs right back into position. See picture.
Drinking fluids is usually sufficient for mild dehydration. It is better to have frequent, small amounts of fluid (using a teaspoon or
syringe for an infant or child) rather than trying to force large amounts of fluid at one time. Drinking too much fluid at once can bring
on more vomiting.
Electrolyte solutions or freezer pops are especially effective and available at pharmacies. CAUTION: Sport drinks contain a lot of
sugar and can cause or worsen diarrhea. In infants and children, avoid using water as the PRIMARY replacement fluid.
Intravenous fluids and hospitalization may be necessary for moderate to severe dehydration. The doctor will try to identify and then
treat the cause of dehydration.
Expectations: When dehydration is recognized and treated promptly, the outcome is generally good.
Complications: Untreated severe dehydration may result in seizures, permanent brain damage, or death.
The Water Jug makes no representation or warranty regarding the accuracy, reliability, completeness, or currentness of the content, test or graphics. Please call
911 for all medical emergencies. The information provided here should not be used during any medical emergency or for the deagnosis or treatment of any
medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for deagnoses and treatment of any and all medical conditions.