Dehydration is a condition that happens when there is lower intake of water than its loss. It can occur in anyone but affects older adults and young children profoundly. The top most reason of dehydration in young children is vomiting and diarrhea where as in older people, it could be due to low intake or due to intake of medicines that cause dehydration.
The need of water in the body is indicated by thirst but it isn’t reliable because older people don’t feel thirsty until they are dehydrated. Some signs and symptoms according to age are given under:
Infant or young child
- Eyes and cheeks are sunken
- Lethargic and irritable
- Sunken anterior fontanelle on the top of skull
- Lack of tears while crying
- No urine for 3 hours
- Mouth and tongue are dry
- Decreased urination
- Excessive thirst
- Dark urine
- Unsteadiness and dizzy
- Blood in stool
- Diarrhea for more than 24 hours
- Disoriented and drowsy
Some causes are: Not drinking enough water because of any illness or forgetfulness, non-availability of safe water to drink, for example when traveling.
Other causes include:
- Fever, it decreases body water
- Vomiting and diarrhea
- Profuse sweating, usually after rigorous exercise or work
- Urinating more than usual.
- Urinalysis: to check for infections and degree of dehydration by its concentration.
- Blood tests: to check for electrolytes
Giving required fluids and electrolytes comprises an effective treatment. Age wise treatment can be:
- Infants: ORS (oral rehydration solution) can be given.
- Older children: sports drinks
- Adults: drinking more water in the form of juices, sports drinks, etc.
If a person gets severely dehydrated he should see a doctor because it is a medical emergency. Salts and electrolytes must be replaced as soon as possible.