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Symptoms of Dehydration

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Dehydration related image Andres Rodriguez/PhotoSpin

Beings made up mostly of water: sounds fishy. Actually, it’s us. Human beings need water so regularly that without the proper hydration we can become ill and even die.

In thousands of places around the world, access to clean and drinkable water is not available. In these places, starvation and dehydration are part of every day life.

In the parts of the world where clean drinking water comes right out of our tap or we purchase one water bottle after another, dehydration is still possible. In both the extremely young and the extremely elderly, dehydration is more of a risk factor in cases of hot weather, illness and immobility.

The access to water and replenishing fluids is crucial, so it’s of utmost importance that young children and the elderly have people around them to make certain they get the care and fluid replenishment they require.

Even in healthy adults, however, the possibility of dehydration can loom on the horizon. One easy rule of thumb to follow is the color of your urine. If it is a light color, that means you are getting enough fluids. However, if it is dark, that is a symptom of mild dehydration.

When exercising regularly, make certain you are drinking enough water before, during and after your exercise, since much of your fluids are lost when you sweat.

The following is a list of symptoms to be aware of for mild to moderate dehydraton:

- Dry mouth

- The eyes stop making tears

- Sweating may stop

- Muscle cramps

- Nausea and vomiting

- Heart palpitations

- Lightheadedness (especially when standing)
 or dizziness

- Weakness

- Decreased urine output

- Sleepiness or tiredness — children are likely to be less active than usual

- Thirst

- Dry skin

- Headache

- Constipation

Rehydrating with water or sports drinks, or, for young children, Pedialyte, is recommended.

Dehydration can be much more severe and in these cases is considered to be a medical emergency.

The following symptoms fall under this category:

- Little or no urination — any urine produced is dark yellow or amber

- Sunken eyes

- Shriveled and dry skin that lacks elasticity and doesn't "bounce back" when pinched into a fold

- In infants, sunken fontanels (the soft spots on the top of a baby's head)

- Low blood pressure

- Extreme thirst

- Extreme fussiness or sleepiness in infants and children; irritability and confusion in adults

- Very dry mouth, skin and mucous membranes

- Lack of sweating

- Rapid heartbeat

- Rapid breathing

- No tears when crying

- Fever

- In the most serious cases, delirium or unconsciousness

Medical attention should be sought for all of the above symptoms as well as the following:

- Moderate diarrhea for three days or more

- Can't keep down fluids

- Irritable or disoriented and much sleepier or less active than usual

- Severe diarrhea, with or without vomiting or fever

- Bloody stool

Since up to 75 percent of a human being’s chemical make-up is water, it is very important that enough water be retained in the body to allow for optimum health.

An individual’s weight is the main criteria used to determine how much fluid intake a person requires to keep from becoming dehydrated. In most calculations, the metric system is used, but the chart below is converted to American units of measurement.

The following chart is from the article “Dehydration” by Medical Author Benjamin Wedro, MD, FACEP, FAAEM and Medical Editor, Melissa Conrad Stoppler, MD:

Body weight Daily fluid requirements (approximate)

10 pounds - 15 ounces

20 pounds - 30 ounces

30 pounds - 40 ounces

40 pounds - 45 ounces

50 pounds - 50 ounces

75 pounds - 55 ounces

100 pounds - 60 ounces

150 pounds - 65 ounces

200 pounds - 70 ounces


Dehydration Symptoms. Mayo Clinic by Mayo Clinic Staff.
Retrieved from the internet on March 18, 2012

Dehydration By Medical Author: Benjamin Wedro, MD, FACEP, FAAEM
Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD. MedicineNet.com
Retrieved from the internet on March 18, 2012

AImee Boyle is a regular contributor to Empowher

Reviewed March 26, 2012
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jessica Obert

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.



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