Dehydration refers to an excessive loss of water from the body with or without loss of salt at a rate which is greater than what the body can replace. This, if left untreated, can lead to a serious imbalance in the water and electrolyte levels in the body which can increase the risk of morbidity and mortality. It can occur either due to an illness, exposure to hot summer temperature, physical exertion with inadequate fluid intake or use of diuretic medications.
Dehydration can cause symptoms such as light-headedness, rapid heart rate, sunken eyes, dry mouth, excessive thirst, and headache. It can also lead to constipation, poor memory, lack of concentration, mood swings, and decreased alertness. These symptoms indicate that you need to up your fluid intake to restore the water balance in the body. Moreover, if the symptoms fail to improve even after fluid restoration, do not think twice to consult a doctor to get it treated.
Dehydration Treatment: What To Do For Dehydration?
The most effective and simple way to treat dehydration is to replenish the lost fluid and electrolytes in the body. For mild cases of dehydration, it is usually enough to drink lots of fluids. However, ensure you make the right choice when it comes to fluids as sweetened beverages can do more harm than good. In most cases, you may get oral rehydration solutions or electrolyte powders in the market which can help you to maintain your fluid and electrolyte balance in the body.
Additionally, there are few at-home remedies for dehydration treatment you can try. These are:
-Drink at least three to four liters of water on a daily basis. If you feel dehydrated, you can add a pinch of salt and a teaspoon of sugar in a glass of water and drink it three or four times a day to ensure fluid control.
-You can replace lost fluids naturally by sipping salty soups or broths as these are not only loaded with water but also contain good amounts of nutrients and salt to help you prevent the health effects of dehydration.
-Opt for fruit juices, preferably freshly prepared fruit juices or drink crushed fruit with water (like a smoothie) to up your fluid intake. You can even drink coconut water as it is packed with essential vitamins, minerals, and salts along with water to keep you stay hydrated.
-Say no to fruit juices as these are not only high in sugar but contain additives which can upset the stomach. Hence, it is advised to go for home-made juices and add loads of water to it before you drink.
-Avoid drinking tea and coffee to up your water intake as it can cause more harm than good. These drinks act as diuretics which means they pull out water from the body thereby further worsening the condition. The same rule applies to soda and alcoholic drinks.
Dehydration Treatment in Kids: What To Do?
Kids usually suffer from dehydration due to fever, diarrhea or vomiting. If your kid is suffering from dehydration, treatment with an oral rehydration solution is the best way to deal with it. There are several over the counter options available to restore the fluid and electrolyte balance. However, it is advised to talk to your pediatrician before you tend to use any of these OTC options. Make your kid drink small sips of ORS throughout the day. Avoid fruit juices if your kid is suffering from diarrhea or vomiting as it might worsen the condition. For infants, breast milk is also the best bet to up the fluid intake in the body.
Dehydrated: When To Go To A Doctor?
If you fail to show any signs of improvement post increasing your water intake then, you may need to see your doctor and get it treated. In severe cases of dehydration, treatment usually involves intravenous fluids to help you restore fluid and electrolyte balance. You may also need to go to a hospital if you suffer from chronic dehydration. Here are a few signs that indicate severe dehydration and may require you to consult a doctor:
-If you have not urinated for more than eight hours
-If you have had seizures
-If you feel disoriented or confused
-If you feel severe fatigue or weakness
-If you feel dizzy when you stand
-If you have a rapid heartbeat
-If you are vomiting or suffering from diarrhea
-If you are severely constipated
-If you are not able to eat or drink
The signs of dehydration in kids include extreme sleepiness, cold feet and hands, few wet diapers, extremely dry mouth and no tears on crying. If you notice these signs, do take your kid to a doctor immediately.
Remember the health effects of dehydration can range from dry skin and headache to increased heart rate and seizures. This is the reason why it is important to know the signs of dehydration and get it treated in the initial stage. If you suffer from chronic dehydration, talk to your doctor to know the underlying cause of the condition and treat it. The key to prevent dehydration is to drink plenty of fluids and stay hydrated, especially if you bask under the sun in the afternoon or indulge in strenuous exercises or workouts.
(The article is reviewed by Dr. Lalit Kanodia, General Physician)
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