What is dehydration?

Dehydration occurs when the loss of fluids from the body is greater than the intake of fluids. Infants, children, and older adults are more prone to dehydration.

It is potentially dangerous if left untreated as it can progress to a heat exhaustion or even heat stroke, which can be fatal.

But if dehydration is detected in time, it can be treated without any help from medical personnel.

Dehydration can be due to:

  • Excessive exercise
  • Prolonged exposure to heat
  • Inadequate consumption of fluids
  • Certain diseases like diabetes, diarrhea, fever

Symptoms of dehydration

  • Insatiable thirst
  • Not urinated in more than 12 hours
  • Unconsciousness or confusion
  • Dry mouth and eyes
  • Muscle cramps
  • Headache
  • Increased heart rate
  • Fatigue

A concentrated yellow colour of urine could be an indication of dehydration.

What should you do in case you see these symptoms?

Step1: Take the person to a shaded or cool place. Sit him down.

Step 2: Give him plenty of water to drink. It is advisable to give him oral rehydration solutions (ORS) as it will rehydrate and replace all the lost salts and minerals.

Step 3: Ask the person to rest in a cool place and massage his muscles if they are cramping

If the person is vomiting, then give smaller amounts of fluids to drink at regular intervals.

Fluid replacement takes at least 24 hours to 36 hours. Therefore it is important to keep drinking lots of fluids throughout the day. Encourage him to stay away from diuretic beverages like tea and coffee until the fluid balance is restored in his body.

When to get medical help

  • If the person’s symptoms doesn’t improve even after 24 hours
  • If the person becomes unconscious or confused
  • In a case of severe dehydration, it is safer to call for medical aid as an intravenous fluid replacement is more effective.

As already mentioned, if detected early, dehydration can be reversed easily by increasing fluid intake. Be aware of the symptoms and act quickly if you think you or someone else has the symptoms.

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