Preventing dehydration very important

We should all take healthy measures to avoid dehydration in our body. Let us first review the medical definition of dehydration. Human dehydration is generally defined as a potentially harmful reduction in the amount of water in the body, due to either not taking in enough water and fluids, or due to an excessive loss of body water. Recall that our human body is 60 percent water, and this water is essential for life and for us to stay healthy.

The most common symptoms of human dehydration include feeling thirsty, sensing a dry mouth and tongue, developing a headache, and a decline in one’s usual energy level, referred to as lethargy.

Dehydration takes place when your body does not have as much water and fluids as it needs for normal body functions. Dehydration can be mild, moderate, or severe, based on how much of your body’s fluid is lost and not replaced. Severe dehydration is a life-threatening emergency.

You can become dehydrated if you lose too much fluid, or do not drink enough water or fluids, or both.

Your body may lose a lot of fluid from any of the following. Fever, vomiting or diarrhea, urinating too much, possibly from uncontrolled diabetes or as a side effect from medications, or from just not drinking enough fluids. One may not feel like eating or drinking enough fluids due to an illness such as the flu, or one may be nauseated, or have a sore throat or mouth sores. One can also become dehydrated from sweating too much, perhaps from exercising, from physical work activity, or from being active outside in hot weather. We all need to remember to drink enough fluid to maintain our normal body water and to replace any excess lost fluids every day.

Following are the most common signs and symptoms of mild to moderate dehydration. Feeling very thirsty, a dry or sticky mouth, not urinating as much as one normally does, slightly dark or yellow appearing urine, dry cool skin, unexplained headache, and/or muscle cramps.

Here are the signs of severe dehydration. Very minimal urinating or very dark yellow or amber-colored urine, very dry skin, irritability or confusion, dizziness or lightheadedness, rapid heartbeat, low blood pressure, rapid breathing, sunken eyes, severe headache, and very low energy. This can lead to unconsciousness or even to shock from not enough blood volume flowing through our body. Obviously, severe dehydration can truly be life threatening.

It is very important to prevent dehydration by taking in enough fluid. We all need to be aware of the signs and symptoms of dehydration and to treat it promptly to avoid severe dehydration. Following are some recommendations to treat mild to moderate dehydration. To begin, try sipping water or sucking on ice cubes. I often recommend the sugar free sport drinks, such as Powerade Zero or Gatorade Zero. These sport drinks give us fluid and also help replace our needed electrolytes that may be at low levels due to the dehydration.

If the dehydration is from diarrhea, the cause of the diarrhea must be promptly determined and fixed. It may be due to illness, or it may be from an over-the-counter or prescribed medication, or from a food intolerance. Be certain to discuss any and all persistent diarrhea with your health care provider without delay to prevent dehydration.

For any signs and symptoms of severe dehydration, one needs to see a health care provider without delay. This may need a same day visit with one’s health care provider, or a visit to the emergency department. With severe dehydration, a person may need to be promptly rehydrated with IV fluids, and the cause of the dehydration needs to be determined, to prevent future episodes of dehydration. Now, go drink some water, and yes, these are Doctor’s Orders.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Dr. Jim Surrell is the author of “The ABC’s For Success In All We Do” and the “SOS (Stop Only Sugar) Diet” books. Requests for health topics for this column are encouraged. Contact Dr. Surrell by email at sosdietdoc@gmail.com.