Dehydration, Loss Of Fluid In The Body
Dehydration occurs when your body loses too much fluid. This can happen when you stop drinking water or lose large amounts of fluid through diarrhea, vomiting, sweating, or exercise. Not drinking enough fluids can cause muscle cramps. You may feel faint. Usually your body can reabsorb fluid from your blood and other body tissues. But by the time you become severely dehydrated, you no longer have enough fluid in your body to get blood to your organs, and you may go into shock, which is a life-threatening condition.
Dehydration can occur at any age, but it is most dangerous for babies, small children, and older adults.
Dehydration in older adults.
Older adults have an increased chance of becoming dehydrated because they may:
- Not drink because they do not feel as thirsty as younger people.
- Have kidneys that do not work well.
- Choose not to drink because of the inability to control their bladders (incontinence).
- Have physical problems or a disease which makes it hard to drink or hold a glass, or painful to get up from a chair, painful or exhausting to go to the bathroom, or difficult to talk or communicate.
- Take medicines that increase urine output.
- Not have enough money to adequately feed themselves.
Watch babies, small children, and older adults closely for the early symptoms of dehydration any time they have illnesses that cause high fever, vomiting, or diarrhea.
The early symptoms of dehydration are:
- Increased thirst.
- A dry mouth and sticky saliva.
- Reduced urine output with dark yellow urine. Your urine may have a strong odor.
- Acting listless or easily irritated.
Symptoms of moderate dehydration include:
- Extreme thirst.
- Dry mouth with no saliva.
- Dry eyes; no tears.
- Decreased urination, or urinating 3 or fewer times in 24 hours. Urine is dark amber or brown.
- Arms and legs that my feel cool to the touch.
- Feeling very tired, restless, or irritable.
- Lightheadedness that is relieved by lying down.
Symptoms of severe dehydration (even if one of them is present) include:
- Altered behavior, such as severe anxiety, confusion, or not being able to stay awake.
- Faintness that is not relieved by lying down, or lightheadedness that continues after standing for 2 minutes.
- Inability to stand or walk.
- Rapid breathing.
- Weak, rapid breathing.
- Cold, clammy skin or hot, dry skin.
- Little or no urination.
- Loss of consciousness.
By the time a person becomes severely dehydrated, there is no longer enough fluid in the body to get blood to the vital organs. Severe dehydration is a medical emergency and requires emergency treatment. Call 911 or other emergency services immediately.
Dehydration is very dangerous for babies, small children, and older adults. It is most dangerous for newborns. Watch closely for early symptoms anytime there is an illness that causes a high fever, vomiting, or diarrhea.
Babies, small children, and older adults cannot replace lost fluids as efficiently as older children and young adults. They should be watched closely for signs of dehydration when they become ill.