Dehydration: What happens, when you are dehydrated?
What is dehydration?
A dangerous loss of body fluid caused by illness, sweating or inadequate intake of water or fluids is called dehydration that is, it occurs when water intake is not enough to replace free water lost due to normal physiologic processes, including breathing, urination, and perspiration, or other causes, including diarrhea and vomiting.
One clue to dehydration is a rapid drop in weight. People generally forget to keep drinking water and keep hydrated themselves. A loss of over 10% (15 pounds in a person weighing 150 pounds) found severe.
Dehydration due to diarrhea is a major cause of morbidity (disease) and mortality (death) in children. The young child has a more rapid turnover of body fluids than an adult, So it is necessary that one should know a few points to prevent dehydration. In rehydrating a child, there are fewer margins for error than for an adult. The younger the child, the more careful the rehydration must be. Cases that demand particular attention to detail are those in which organ function (especially the skin, heart, brain, or kidney) is critically compromised. Overhydration may be as serious as severe dehydration in children and rehydration should therefore be done under medical supervision.
The best way to treat dehydration is to prevent dehydration from occurring. If one suspects excessive fluid loss, notify a physician. The need for Intravenous or oral fluid replacement might be in the future.
What are the Causes of Dehydration?
Dehydration takes place when your body loses more fluid than you drink. Common causes include excessive sweating, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Sometimes dehydration occurs for simple reasons: You don’t drink enough because you’re sick or busy, or because you lack access to safe drinking water when you’re traveling, hiking, or camping.
It can also be caused by some other causes like:
1. Diarrhea, vomiting
Severe, acute diarrhea — that is, diarrhea that comes on suddenly and violently — can cause a tremendous loss of water and electrolytes in a short amount of time. If you have vomiting along with diarrhea, you lose even more fluids and minerals. You can get diarrhea because of many infections- both bacterial and viral. You can also get diarrhea because of stress or as a side effect of certain drugs.
In general, the higher your fever, the more dehydrated you may become. The problem worsens if you have a fever in addition to diarrhea and vomiting. Fever can again be caused by many infections. Any infection in your body triggers the fever response in your brain. This process is mediated by chemicals called interleukins. When your body temperature rises, you lose a lot of water with sweat and urine. Thus, you get dehydrated.
3. Excessive sweating
You lose water when you sweat. If you do vigorous activity and don’t replace fluids as you go along, you can become dehydrated. Hot, humid weather increases the amount you sweat, and the amount of fluid you lose results in extreme water loss.
4. Increased urination
This may be due to undiagnosed or uncontrolled diabetes. Certain medications, such as diuretics and some blood pressure medications, also can lead to dehydration, generally because they cause you to urinate more. You also tend to urinate more in cold weather, when you have a fever or when you have an infection in your body.
Anyone can become dehydrated, but the following people are at greater risk:
5. Infants and children
The most likely group to experience severe diarrhea and vomiting, infants and children are especially vulnerable to dehydration. Having a higher surface area to volume area, they also lose a higher proportion of their fluids from a high fever or burns. Young children often can’t tell you that they’re thirsty, nor can they get a drink for themselves.
6. Older adults
As you age, your body’s fluid reserve becomes smaller, your ability to conserve water is reduced and your thirst sense becomes less acute. These problems are compounded by chronic illnesses such as diabetes and dementia, and by the use of certain medications. Older adults also may have mobility problems that limit their ability to obtain water for themselves.
7. People with chronic illnesses
Having uncontrolled or untreated diabetes puts you at a high risk of dehydration. Kidney disease also increases your risk, as do medications that increase urination. Even having a cold or sore throat makes you more susceptible to dehydration because you’re less likely to feel like eating or drinking when you’re sick.
8. People who work or exercise outside
When it’s hot and humid, your risk of dehydration and heat illness increases. That’s because when the air is humid, sweat can’t evaporate and cool you as quickly as it normally does, and this can lead to an increase in body temperature and the need for more fluids.
What happens to your body when you are dehydrated?
Water is essential for human life. It accounts for 50-70 percent of our body weight and is crucial for most bodily functions. Any deficit in normal body water – through dehydration, sickness, exercise, or heat stress – can make us feel rotten. First, we feel thirsty and fatigued and may develop a mild headache. This eventually gives way to grumpiness and mental and physical decline.
We continually lose water via our breath, urine, face sweat, and skin. Most healthy people regulate their body’s water level remarkably well via eating and drinking and generally guided by appetite and thirst. But this is more difficult for infants, the sick, the elderly, athletes, and those with strenuous physical occupations, especially in the heat.
As you ‘lose’ body water or complete water loss without replacing it, your blood becomes more concentrated and, at a point, this triggers your kidneys to retain water. The result: you urinate less.
The thicker and more concentrated your blood becomes, the harder it is for your cardiovascular system to compensate by increasing heart rate to maintain blood pressure. When your dehydrated body is ‘pushed’ – such as when exercising or faced with heat stress – the risk of exhaustion or collapse increases. This can cause you to faint, for instance, when you stand up too quickly.
Less water also hampers the body’s attempts at regulating temperature, which can cause hyperthermia (a body temperature greatly above normal). At a cellular level, ‘shrinkage’ occurs as water is effectively borrowed to maintain other stores, such as the blood. The brain senses this and triggers an increased sensation of thirst.
Signs to tell that you’re dehydrated
Everybody’s body is different. It depends on your age, gender, and also your levels of stress. Dehydration manifests in different age groups differently. Let us see that below
1. In babies and children
- Dry mouth and tongue- if your baby is crying excessively and you feel like their mouth or tongue mucosa is dry and not enough saliva, they may be dehydrated.
- No tears when crying- if your baby or child is crying excessively but unable to produce tears. This is a more common finding in infants. This means that they are whining and screaming but there is less or no tearing from their eyes.
- No wet diapers for three hours- this means that the child has not passed urine for the last 3 hours which is an indication that the child is possibly undergoing dehydration.
- Sunken eyes, cheeks- if you notice your child’s eyes to be far into the eye socket and your child appears to be sick and parched, consult your doctor immediately. Sunken eyes and cheeks are a delayed sign of dehydration that means the baby’s dehydration has progressed to a dangerous level and intervention must be done now.
- Listlessness or irritability- if your child is crying for everything, much more than normal. If your baby or child feels irritation for things they normally tolerate and your baby does not stop crying even after giving feeds, they may be dehydrated.
2. In adults
- Extreme thirst- if you feel like the regular amount of water is not satisfying your thirst.
- Less frequent urination and dark colored urine- If the number of times you use the washroom reduces by more than 20% and the urine you pass are of a darker color, you may be dehydrated.
- Burning sensation while passing urine- if you feel a burning sensation in your urethra while peeing along with less frequent urination and dark colored urine, you may be dehydrated. In women, burning while peeing is also a sign of an infection or a UTI.
- Fatigue –if you feel very tired after your daily routine with no other detectable cause
- Dizziness- attacks of dizziness or vertigo are a tell-tale sign of dehydration if your water intake has reduced and if you do not have any pre-existing condition which gives you vertigo
- Confusion- also is a sign of dehydration
These signs are important and you should go see a doctor when:
- You have had diarrhea for 24 hours or more
- You are irritable or forgetful and much feel sleepier or less active than usual
- Can’t keep down fluids
- Have bloody or black stool.
How can you prevent dehydration?
1. Drink plenty of water
It is necessary to keep drinking water 6-8 glasses or up to 2 liters of water each day. Failing to do so, will definitely make you dehydrated. By drinking water, I mean drinking water, and not colas or other sugary drinks. Your daily fluid intake must consist of 2 liters f water over and above any other fluids or juices that are a part of your diet.
2. Eat foods that have high water content
This includes whole foods-fruits, vegetables-raw. You may choose to increase your intake of fruit and vegetable juices, milk, and milk products and may even want to reduce your intake of salt to prevent dehydration.
3. Avoid drinks with caffeine
Caffeine is a natural diuretic. What is a diuretic? It is something that increases the amount of urination in your body, does not prevent, and hence results in dehydration. Instead of avoiding them completely, you may choose to limit their consumption in your day and always compensate by drinking more water or fruit juices to prevent dehydration.
4. Avoid or limit drinks with alcohol
Alcohol too is a diuretic and a much more potent one than caffeine-rich drinks. Other than predisposing to dehydration, alcohol also causes many other serious illnesses. So, cutting it out of your diet completely will not harm you in any way.
5. Be aware of your fluid loss
In case you are increasing your caffeine intake, alcohol intake, or your sweating by increasing your workout period or being in a hot and humid environment, you must up your water intake accordingly. It is important to listen to your body and call out when it’s thirsty.
Don’t wait until you feel thirsty to drink- Always keep water at an accessible distance from you. You should inculcate the habit of drinking water regularly to prevent dehydration. Drink fruit juices, milk, and soup.
Don’t skip your meals- You get a lot of your fluids from meals. Eat a well-balanced diet that includes fruits vegetables and a good amount of roughage.
The above tips can help to prevent dehydration in the future.
In the end, always remember that it is your body. Your body does so much for you, all day, every day. You must treat it like a temple and take the absolute best care of it. Always keep water near you which prevents dehydration. Make it a habit to carry a small water bottle with you wherever you go and drink water frequently. Listen to your body if it’s saying it’s thirsty.
A common mistake is mistaking thirst for hunger and eating condensed foods, with lesser water content. That will do us more harm than good. Keep drinking water at small intervals to be hydrated and remember these ways to prevent dehydration.
Also Read: How to Boost Immunity during Coronavirus
Stay hydrated and remind those around you to hydrate, too! Stay happy, stay healthy.
We hope this article helped you to know about what happens to your body when you are dehydrated? Ways to prevent dehydration. You may also want to see our guide on What Too Much Sodium Do To Your Body, Salt Side Effects, and How To Maintain Hygiene In Intimate Area.