A body losing too much water or fluid and not having as much water and fluid as it should normally have is “Dehydration”. It is a condition where the intake of fluid is less than the loss of body fluids. The quantum of loss of body fluids, determines the severity of dehydration.
Dehydration was a cause of great concern till the first half of the 21st century, as no significant treatment course could be achieved to curb down the mortality rate.
Causes of dehydration-
A) Not sufficient intake of water or fluids (due to illness and loss of appetite, mouth sores and nausea)
B) Body losing too much fluids (due to extreme hot climate or too much exercise)
E) Vomiting (continued for 12 hours or more)
F) Uncontrolled urination due to the use of diuretics or diabetes.
In comparison to adults, children are more prone to dehydration because they weigh less and the loss of water and electrolytes from their bodies, is much quicker.
a) Sunken eyes
b) Low output of dark or yellow urine
c) No urine output for 8 hours or more
e) Coma (in case of severe dehydration)
f) Dry mouth
g) Dry eyes
j) Increased thirst
A physical examination may render low blood pressure, skin taking longer time to take original shape and colour when pinched up, faster heart beat, shock and delay in capillary refill.
The severity of dehydration depends upon the quantum of loss of body fluids. Mild dehydration or moderate dehydration can be treated with ease if detected quickly and not ignored for long. However, if ignored or neglected, the mild or the moderate dehydration can turn to severe dehydration causing
a) Seizures (repeated convulsions due to disturbed brain activity)
b) Permanent brain damage
a) Sufficient intake of water or fluids
b) Fluid replenishment to begin as soon as possible in case of persistent vomiting and diarrhoea
c) ORT (oral rehydration therapy) in case of acute diarrhoea
d) Normalisation of body temperature by removing excessive clothing or keeping the person in an air conditioned room in case of heat exposure
e) Avoid exposure to heat
f) Avoid consumption of alcohol in dry and very warm weather as, alcohol has been noted to increase loss of water in a body in warm weather.
The family physician or a competent medical practitioner is to be contacted without any delay if a child or an adult is found to experience the following abnormalities-
a) Blood in the vomit or the stool
b) Diarrhoea or vomiting (persistent)
c) Dry mouth
d) Dry eyes, yellowish in colour
e) Rapid heart beat
f) No output of urine or low output of urine for 8 hours or more
g) Sunken eyes
h) Sunken soft spot on the top of an infant’s head
i) When pinched up, skin sags back slowly into position
l) Fever (103 degree F or more)
Dehydration can be serious and critical and would need the constant patronage of a competent medical practitioner until cured, in the following cases-
a) An adult or a child is unable to store fluids in the system
b) Persistent vomiting lasting 12 hours or more
c) Diarrhoea lasting more than 5 days
d) Becoming less active all of a sudden and getting irritated
e) More and frequent urination