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Five Fast Facts About Dehydration

1. What Exactly is Dehydration?

Dehydration happens when you don’t drink enough fluids, or when you lose more fluid than you take in. When that fluid isn’t replaced quickly enough, you’ll start to experience symptoms of dehydration, and your body won’t be able to perform its necessary functions.

2. What Causes Dehydration?

During the summer months, dehydration often happens when people sweat excessively, and don’t drink enough fluids. During the winter months, dehydration is more likely to happen due to vomiting, diarrhea and fevers that are caused by influenza and other infections.

3. What Are the Symptoms of Dehydration?

In adults, symptoms of dehydration include extreme thirst, dark urine, infrequent urination, headaches, constipation and dizziness. If dehydration progresses, it can also cause profound fatigue and confusion.

In children, symptoms of dehydration include lethargy, sunken eyes, dry mouth, lack of tears when crying, and infrequent wet diapers.

In addition to these symptoms, patients with dehydration will often have a fast heart rate and a low blood pressure on exam.

4. What’s the Treatment for Dehydration?

Mild dehydration can often be corrected by drinking oral fluids. Since you tend to lose sodium and other electrolytes when you sweat, vomit or have diarrhea, it’s wise to drink fluids that contain sodium and other electrolytes.

Once dehydration becomes severe, oral fluids usually aren’t enough to correct it in time. Patients with significant dehydration need urgent medical care, which often entails aggressive rehydration with I.V. fluids.

5. How Can Dehydration Be Prevented?

In the summer months, it’s important to drink plenty of water, and to carry water with you whenever you leave the house. It’s also advisable to stay indoors or in the shade during the hottest hours of the day.

In the winter, it’s also important to drink plenty of fluids. In addition, using fever-reducers as directed can help prevent dehydration from febrile conditions. And it’s wise to seek medical attention for vomiting or diarrhea that lasts more than 24 hours, a fever (a temperature above 100.4 F), or if you experience any of the other symptoms listed above.

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