Drink Up to Avoid the Dangers of Dehydration
Your body loses fluid easily, whether you are sick, working out, doing something more strenuous than usual, or simply forgetting to drink water throughout the day. If you don’t replenish it, you place yourself at risk for dehydration and other, sometimes severe, health complications.
Dehydration can set in rapidly, especially if you’re sick and exhibiting symptoms of diarrhea and vomiting. If you’re spending hot, summer days outside relaxing, it can be a bit more gradual, but sweating and sunburns will speed it up.
Most people will recognize the first symptoms of dehydration, including thirst, having a dry mouth, and urinating less. However, according to Dr. Kafi Rudolph, not everyone will experience or respond to these symptoms in order to rehydrate.
“Elderly individuals, young children, and infants don’t feel the symptom of thirst the same way adolescents and adults do,” said Dr. Rudolph, of Washington Township Primary & Specialty Care. “It’s also common that they forget to drink enough fluids, or may not be independent.”
“Because your infant won’t be able to tell you about these symptoms, there are warning signs to watch out for,” continued Dr. Rudolph. “These include having fewer wet diapers than usual and a lack of tears when crying.”
If you don’t treat your dehydration by drinking water or electrolyte beverages, symptoms of sweating, dizziness, and fatigue may occur. As your body becomes more and more dehydrated, you may faint, become disoriented, develop heatstroke, stop urinating completely, and even experience respiratory and cardiac complications.
“Excessive sweating releases a lot of electrolytes, causing an imbalance, which can lead to abnormal heart rhythm,” explained Dr. Rudolph. “Over time, if you have no access to water, your organs will begin to fail, starting with your kidneys. Ultimately, dehydration is fatal if it’s not treated.”
When you’re working toward rehydrating, it’s important to avoid caffeinated drinks, as they will further dehydrate you.
“If your dehydration is severe enough, the appropriate treatment is administered in a hospital through IV fluids,” explained Dr. Rudolph. “Pay close attention to your symptoms, so you know when medical attention is necessary.”
Of course, fluids are key in preventing dehydration. However, if you have a health condition that restricts this consumption, such as heart failure, you should check with your healthcare provider about the proper amount of fluid for you.
During the heat of the summer, it’s important to always have a bottle of water on hand. Even if you don’t feel thirsty, remember to take sips throughout the day, and remind those around you to do the same.