Dehydration symptoms occur when the level of water in the body is sufficiently low that cells and tissues begin to malfunction and the body takes steps to reduce further water loss and increase water intake.
Common symptoms are thirst, dry mouth, and reduced production of urine and sweat. In more advanced levels of dehydration brain function is affected and an individual may experience dizziness and confusion. Eventually severe dehydration could lead to coma and death.
Dehydration can occur for many reasons. Many disorders which create severe water loss by vomiting and diarrhea such as viral or bacterial infection can lead to dehydration. Diseases which increase sweating or urination may also cause dehydration.
A simple lack of drinking proper daily amounts of fluids can lead to mild dehydration. This can occur frequently in elderly individuals whose thirst center of the brain is not functioning as well as younger individuals.
Profuse sweating during physical activity, fever, or high temperatures can also lead to a moderate degree of dehydration.
- reduced sweating
- dry mouth
- reduced urine production
Diagnosis of dehydration is typically through physical examination and observation of symptoms.
Treatment of mild dehydration is typically through drinking of appropriate amounts of water or specially formulated sports drinks. However, the cause of the dehydration must also be identified and appropriately treated.
Moderate to severe cases of dehydration are typically treated with intravenous administration of sodium chloride solution.
Prevention of dehydration may be as simple as drinking appropriate amounts of fluids daily for healthy individuals. For adults this may be as much as 6-8 glasses a day.
Hydration efforts must be increased accordingly during exercise, illness, and high temperatures.