Staying hydrated is a key to leading a healthy lifestyle, especially in hot, humid climates. As we know, water makes up about two-thirds of our body and is essential for normal functioning and for our good health and well-being. However, when fluids are not consumed in sufficient quantity as required by the body, it causes dehydration. This is a common condition in which the body loses more fluid than it takes in and does not have enough water and other fluids required to carry out its normal functions.
What are the types of dehydration?
There are three main types of dehydration:
1. Hypotonic - In this kind of dehydration, there is loss of electrolytes. This kind of dehydration leads to more sodium loss than water loss.
2. Hypertonic - This type of dehydration involves loss of water. In this condition, there is more water loss than sodium.
3. Isotonic - In this condition, there is loss of water and sodium in equal proportion. Isotonic is the most commonly occurring type of dehydration.
What are the signs and symptoms of dehydration?
Signs of dehydration may be mild or severe and can differ in accordance to the age. It is worth knowing that symptoms of dehydration may appear before total dehydration takes place.
Common symptoms of mild to moderate dehydration include:
Severe dehydration, in addition to the symptoms of mild dehydration, is likely to cause the following:
Severe dehydration is a medical emergency, and one should get immediate medical help if any of these signs and symptoms appear. Infants and young children may experience slightly different symptoms of dehydration. Some common symptoms in infants or young children include:
What causes dehydration?
There can be various reasons for dehydration. Normally, our body loses water by sweating, breathing, peeing, pooping, and through tears and saliva (spit). And when this loss is not replaced by drinking enough water, dehydration is likely to happen.
Factors that can cause dehydration include:
Diarrhoea - It can cause a great loss of water and electrolytes very fast. The large intestine normally absorbs water from food matter, and diarrhoea prevents this from happening, causing the body to excrete too much water leading to dehydration.
Vomiting - It leads to loss of fluids and makes it difficult to replace water by drinking.
Fever - It is also a major cause of dehydration. The more the fever, the more dehydrated one may become.
Excessive sweating - Vigorous activity, if not accompanied by fluid intakes, can lead to excessive sweating and cause dehydration. Hot and humid weather also increases the body to sweat more and lose fluid quickly.
Diabetes - High blood sugar levels can cause increased urination and fluid loss, resulting in dehydration.
Increased urination - This may be caused due to undiagnosed or uncontrolled diabetes. Alcohol and medications such as diuretics, blood pressure medications, antihistamines, and antipsychotics can also cause increased urination.
Burns - Blood vessels, when damaged that can cause fluid leakage into the surrounding tissues.