Everything You Need To Know About Dehydration

1)  What is dehydration?

           Dehydration is more than being thirsty, or needing to drink a little more water after your workout.  Dehydration is the loss of a harmful amount of fluid from your body.

2)  What causes dehydration?

           In flu season, a lot of dehydration is caused by the loss of bodily fluids through vomiting and diarrhea.  It’s also possible to get dehydrated from a fever, because water evaporates off of hot skin faster.  Other causes of dehydration include physical exertion, excessive sweating, and hot climates.  Medications called diuretics, which make you urinate more, can also lead to dehydration.

3) How can you tell if someone is dehydrated?  

         In children, symptoms of dehydration include the lack of tears, sunken eyes, a sunken fontanelle (aka “soft spot”) and a decreased number of wet diapers.  In patients of all ages, dehydration can cause weight loss, dizziness, dry skin, dark urine, lethargy, an accelerated heart rate and a drop in blood pressure.

4)  What are the dangers of dehydration?

         Dehydration is dangerous because it causes hypotension (low blood pressure), because your body lacks enough fluid to overcome gravity.  This can lead to an altered level of consciousness, or a loss of consciousness.  Dehydration also causes less fluids and oxygen to flow to major organs, like the kidneys and the brain.  Without adequate perfusion, these vital organs will begin to fail.

5)  What can you do to prevent dehydration?

          There are several key ways to prevent dehydration!  If it’s due to an illness, it’s important to treat the underlying cause.  Taking antibiotics for bacterial infections, taking Tamiflu for influenza, taking fever reducers to treat a fever, and take anti-emetics and anti-diarrheals to treat vomiting and diarrhea are key ways to prevent dehydration.

           For dehydration caused by factors other than illness...if you’re working out, make sure to drink plenty of water.  If you’re in a hot climate, drink water, wear breathable fabrics, and stay in the shade as much as possible.  If you’re taking diuretics, make sure to take them as prescribed, and notify your health care provider if you begin to feel dizzy, thirsty or weak.

6)  How is dehydration treated?

           If a patient is becoming dehydrated due to vomiting, diarrhea or a fever, it’s important to try to replenish the fluid they’re losing. Instead of drinking plain water, we recommend drinking fluids that contain salt and electrolytes, since these are often depleted when a patient is ill.  Taking slow, frequent sips of clear fluids (think Gatorade, Vitamin Water, Pedialyte or broth) is more effective than trying to get a patient to chug a large volume of fluids all at once.  If someone continues to exhibit signs of dehydration in spite of efforts to drink more fluids at home, they need to be evaluated by a medical provider as soon as possible, and rehydrated with IV fluids.

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At Golden Gate Urgent Care, we’re here 7 days a week to care for you!  We offer IV fluids and an array of IV medications to treat you and your loved ones.  Make an appointment online, or simply walk in to get the care you need.

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