Dehydration symptoms and causes – how to avoid them?
Dehydration is simply defined as losing more bodily fluids than the amount you take in through what you eat and drink. While the definition is simple, this condition itself is very serious, and can lead to long-term health consequences. In extreme cases, a person can even die from severe dehydration!
While it’s unlikely that you would actually die from dehydration, it’s good to understand how this condition can affect you and the symptoms of dehydration, so you know you and everyone in your family is properly hydrated at all times. Let’s look at some surprising facts about dehydration and how to combat this problem if you think you’re suffering from fluid loss.
1. You can suffer dehydration through everyday bodily functions
You may think that someone who sweats a lot is at most risk for dehydration symptoms; while too much sweat is a common cause for losing excess amounts of bodily fluid, you also lose hydration through your breath that evaporates, through urine and elimination, and through the moisture that is needed to keep skin, eyes, and other organs healthy. Hydration is also needed to create healthy blood and to repair muscles and other tissue.
You should understand this so that you don’t dismiss signs of dehydration, thinking that only those who work out a lot or live in a very hot climate suffer from ths condition. Let’s take a closer look at some other factors of what causes dehydration, so you can better understand if you or someone in your family is at risk.
2. Surprising dehydration causes
Note a few causes of dehydration so you can ensure you and your family are looking out for these and can avoid them as much as possible. While a casual stroll around the block is typically safe for your hydration levels, extreme and prolonged exercise can cause dehydration. This is especially true if you don’t drink enough water before and even after exercise, as your body is still using fluids to rebuild muscle tissue and support your increased heart rate. Damage to skin or other organs can cause dehydration effects, as the skin needs water to heal itself; if you have burns, eczema, cuts, or other such skin damage, you need more bodily fluids to heal. Vomiting causes loss of water; those who are sick with the flu or who force vomiting, such as persons with bulimia, are then at increased risk for this condition.
Not drinking enough water while filling up on other foods and drinks can also cause symptoms of dehydration. As an example, caffeine is a diuretic, meaning it causes you to lose hydration. If you drink more coffee and caffeinated soda than you do water, as an example, you may start to see symptoms of being dehydrated.
3. Dehydration symptoms
One of the most common symptoms of dehydration in adults and children alike is extreme thirst; this is your body’s most obvious way of encouraging you to take in hydration. Dry mouth and a swollen tongue are also common signs of this condition, as is being dizzy and especially when standing up, since the body needs fluids to support healthy blood circulation to the brain. Confusion and slowed reaction times are also dehydration symptoms, since the brain is not getting enough fluid to be healthy and to function properly.
You may also notice an inability to sweat even when you’re very warm, and decreased urine output or thick, uncomfortable urine when you’re suffering from being dehydrated. Weakness is also common, as the muscles suffer and become weak from lack of bodily fluids.
4. Dehydration effects and your health
Being dehydrated can lead to constipation, as the body needs adequate fluid to break down foods and soften stools. Constipation can be painful and also allow toxins to build up in the digestive system, since you’re not eliminating them properly. The effects of this condition and your digestion also include the added risk of kidney stones, as the kidneys need adequate fluid to filter and create urine. Without this hydration, stones build up and develop over time. The liver can also be damaged from severe dehydration, as this organ works as a filter and needs fluids to remove toxins; when the liver cannot function, those toxins build up and damage this organ.
A person can also get headaches and fatigue when suffering from severe dehydration, and this can interfere with their work and even with safe driving, as they may get distracted or sleepy when behind the wheel. Dehydration in the elderly may cause confusion and it can also lead to falls, since not having enough fluid can cause dizziness and elderly persons may already struggle with balance. A person may also suffer circulatory problems, as the body needs adequate fluid to create healthy blood cells and then to push that blood through the veins and arteries.
5. How to avoid dehydration
In severe cases, you want to seek emergency dehydration treatment from a doctor or hospital; you may need an intravenous drip that gets hydration to your system very quickly. However, treatment for that condition at home can be as simple as drinking lots of water on a regular basis. To do this, make a schedule for when you’ll have water, as if you’re taking medicine. Have a large glass every hour on the hour, or a smaller glass every half hour if that’s more palatable.
Be sure you’re eating foods with lots of hydration; this would include citrus fruits, berries, apples, and melons. Any foods that is especially juicy will have more fluid that your body will absorb and use for needed hydration.
Red meat and dairy products are especially difficult for your body to break down, so these can cause dehydration if you’re not drinking water to compensate for these in your diet. You can reduce the amount of red meat, dairy milk, cheese, and other such foods that you eat every day to avoid signs of dehydration, and switch to soy products and healthy oils in place of butter and cheese on your food. Healthy oils will help compensate for any lack of hydration, and reducing foods like meat and cheese will also help avoid dehydration symptoms.