What is dehydration?
Dehydration is a medical condition that is caused by your body not having enough water and other fluids to support your normal bodily functions. This can be a result of using more fluid than you are taking in through sweating or not taking in enough water in the first place to support the body’s functions. Dehydration can affect people of all ages, but it is particularly dangerous and of concern for older adults and young children. For young children, the most common cause of dehydration is vomiting and severe diarrhea. In older adults, the natural volume of water in their body is lower and this can be exacerbated by medications that they are taking or medical conditions that can increase their risk of dehydration. For older adults, this means that a minor illness such as a lung or bladder infection can cause dehydration if they aren’t careful about their water intake. Not drinking enough water, particularly during hot weather or while exercising vigorously, can cause any age group to become dehydrated. Most cases of mild to moderate dehydration can be resolved by drinking extra fluids, taking care not to drink them too fast, but severe cases require immediate medical attention in order to hydrate the body safely and quickly.
How does dehydration develop?
There are many reasons for dehydration to develop depending on the circumstances and for the most part it is accidental. People can get busy and not think to drink water throughout the day or they may be sick and drinking water can make them feel worse. In some cases, it can be hard to come by water that is safe for drinking, such as when you are traveling, hiking or camping, and you weren’t prepared with extra water. Other causes of dehydration can be linked to medical conditions that can cause your body to lose water at a greater rate than normal. For example, diarrhea and vomiting both cause the body to lose water and electrolytes, especially when one or both comes on suddenly and severely. Fevers are also responsible for the loss of water in the body, with higher fevers causing the body to lose even more water. Sweating is one of the most common means of water loss, whether due to a hot climate or environment, or through rigorous exercise. During exercise it is important to replenish water regularly through your workout to ensure you don’t become dehydrated. Increased urination will cause the body to lose water, whether it is through diabetes that is undiagnosed or not under control, or the result of certain medications that cause you to urinate more frequently. These medications will typically have a warning on them to drink extra water.
What are signs of severe dehydration?
Dehydration signs and symptoms can vary by age group, with adults and children showing very different symptoms. Often feeling thirsty means you are already dehydrated, which you want to avoid. Severe dehydration symptoms in young children and infants include dry tongue and mouth, no tears when crying, dry diaper for three hours or more, sunken eyes and cheeks, sunken soft spot on the top of the skull and listless or irritable. In adults, symptoms of severe dehydration include extreme thirst, dark-colored urine, fatigue, dizziness, and confusion. Dehydration can also cause low blood pressure, increased heart rate and reduced blood flow going out to your extremities. Doctors are typically able to diagnose severe dehydration based on symptoms alone, but they can also use blood tests and urinalysis to determine exactly how dehydrated you are and if there are other issues present as a result of dehydration.
When should you go to the urgent care for dehydration?
Treatment should be sought out for dehydration when the symptoms are severe and affecting the individual’s ability to function. Additional symptoms of severe dehydration include the patient being irritable or disoriented, unable to keep fluids down and has bloody or black stools, or if they have had diarrhea for 24 hours or more. Young children and infants should especially be checked out by a doctor if dehydration is suspected to ensure they get the fluids their bodies need. In urgent care, doctors are able to hook patients up to an IV to administer fluids back into the body safely and quickly with maximum absorption. If left untreated, severe dehydration can cause serious complications such as heat stroke, kidney stones, urinary tract infections, kidney failure, seizures and low blood volume shock. It is imperative that dehydration is treated immediately by drinking fluids and seeking medical attention when fluids can’t stay down, or a severe case of dehydration is suspected. If you are experiencing dehydration, then you should book an appointment right away with our team of leading healthcare professionals today at AFC Urgent Care Seminole. We are open 7 days a week and we also accept walk-ins. We serve patients from Seminole FL, Largo FL, Pinellas Park FL, Clearwater FL, Safety Harbor FL, and Dunedin FL.