The Symptoms, Causes, and Cure for Dehydration

Dehydration is probably more of an issue in your life, and the life of people around you, than you think. You probably aren’t seeing an oasis, but you might seeing minor symptoms of dehydration manifesting in your life. It’s not uncommon for people of any age and any point in their life to have signs of dehydration.

Dehydration might seem like a silly reason to end up in an urgent care center, but it really isn’t. Even with water readily available in most parts of the United States, it’s easy for someone to get dehydrated. Of course, they might just not notice it. In movies, dehydration is heavily dramatized. You might see a person who seems fine one minute try to wet their lips, fail, and suddenly be driven to madness. In a funny movie, they’ll see Las Vegas in the desert, and try eating a cactus. In a more serious one, they might pass out as they crawl to a pool of water that was never really there.

While passing out is a very real symptom of dehydration it’s not one that you’re likely to experience. Instead, symptoms are a bit more down to earth. Here’s a realistic look at an unrealistic issue.

The Symptoms of Dehydration

“If you don’t drink enough water you die, right? You need to drink 64 ounces of water every day or you immediately die.”

While this is how children discuss dehydration, you’ll notice that adults (medical professionals especially) discuss it with a bit more nuance. Dehydration symptoms aren’t so severe as they’re made out to be. Instead, they are often quite small. Early into a spat of dehydration, you might be tired, and have a dry mouth. Naturally, you’ll be more thirsty than normal, and might have some issues urinating. The urge will be there, but the ability to pee will not. Pee will also become more yellow, and you might develop dizziness or a headache.

Go dehydrated for too long, and this dizziness will be taken to the extreme. In a short time, you can go from mild dizziness to being unable to walk, or even stand. Your blood pressure might drop significantly, but your heart rate will go through the roof. You will develop a fever, and your skin will become less elastic. You might develop a migraine.

If symptoms persist beyond this, you might go into shock, or have a seizure. You could pass out, fall into coma, or (yes) even die.

The Causes of Dehydration

To understand the causes of dehydration, we first need to think of dehydration as less of a binary attribute. We are not hydrated or dehydrated for any long period under normal conditions, but we’re instead in a sort of constant flux between the two. If we know that our body is about 70% water, then we should also be able to glean that it’s less than 70% water when we become dehydrated, or can become more than that when we’re hydrated. Ideally, we would have a constant excess of water, which we could then get rid of through urination.

But more processes than urination are sapping from our pool of water. For example, breathing requires some water to function correctly, as well as sweating and digestion. So, even while removing water in excess of 70%, we are dipping below that. This is the root cause of dehydration.

Of course, this can be exacerbated by certain conditions. Vomiting, for example, is a common way that people become dehydrated. As you can imagine, there is a lot of water stored in our stomach at any given time. When the water (and other liquid) suddenly leaves our body, it leaves us at a huge deficit. Diabetes can also impair our hydration, leaving a greater risk for dehydration. So can excess sweating, which is why water bottles are so important when working out. Skin injuries, such as burns, can also leave us dehydrated because of the process that repairs them.

The Cure for Dehydration

The obvious cure for dehydration is hydration, though someone who is dehydrated might have difficulty with it. If someone around you has reached a heightened state of dehydration, you should attempt to hydrate them by giving the small sips of water, or ice chips. To prevent dehydration, you should be constantly hydrating. Don’t just aim for 64 ounces of water each day, but instead to maintain water intake throughout the day. Watch for anything dehydrating, like coffee or soda, and try to follow it with water when possible.

Rapid Med Team
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