Heat & Dehydration

What is dehydration?

Dehydration can be a serious heat-related disease, as well as being a dangerous side effect of diarrhea, vomiting, and fever. Children and persons over the age of 60 are particularly susceptible to dehydration.

What causes dehydration?

Under normal conditions, we all lose body water daily through sweat, tears, breathing, urine, and stool. In a healthy person, this water is replaced by drinking fluids and eating foods that contain water. When a person becomes so sick with fever, diarrhea, or vomiting, or if an individual is overexposed to the sun and not drinking enough water, dehydration occurs. This is caused when the body loses water content and essential body salts, such as sodium, potassium, calcium bicarbonate, and phosphate. Occasionally, dehydration can be caused by drugs, such as diuretics, which deplete body fluids and electrolytes. Whatever the cause, dehydration should be treated as soon as possible.

What are the symptoms of dehydration?

The following are the most common symptoms of dehydration. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:

  • Thirst
  • Less-frequent urination
  • Dry skin
  • Fatigue
  • Light-headedness
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Dry mouth and mucous membranes
  • Increased heart rate and breathing

In children, additional symptoms may include:

  • Dry mouth and tongue
  • No tears when crying
  • No wet diapers for more than three hours
  • Sunken abdomen, eyes, or cheeks
  • High fever
  • Listlessness
  • Irritability
  • Skin that does not flatten when pinched and released

The symptoms of dehydration may resemble other medical conditions or problems. Always consult your doctor for a diagnosis.

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