Dehydration: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments

In the Philippines, generic medicines have played a huge part in helping Filipinos combat diseases and drive away various symptoms. Now that summer has officially begun in the country, we must be wary of acquiring illnesses that are too common at this time of the year.

There is a whole list of sicknesses you can get during the summer, including skin diseases caused by the sun. However, this article will be concentrating on one specific condition likely to occur in the summer heat – dehydration. The rise in temperature will surely affect Filipinos living all across the nation; and therefore, they must be properly informed about it and how to prevent it.

What is dehydration?

Dehydration occurs when the loss of water, along with other fluids, in your body is greater than the amount you retain or take in. This means more fluids are moving out of your cells than what you are drinking to fill your body.

Generally, it is quite normal for your body to lose these fluids. You actually release water vapours everyday through exhaling as well as through your excreted stool, urine, and sweat. However, losing too much without replacement would cause your body to become imbalanced and/or dehydrated. Severe cases of dehydration may lead to death.

What causes dehydration?

Numerous causes and conditions can lead to your body experiencing fluid loss and eventually dehydration. This includes:

  • Little to no access to a clean and safe drinking water
  • Your body being subjected to heat, fever, or too much work out
  • Diarrhea, vomiting, and increased urination caused by infection
  • Diabetes and other diseases
  • Inability to drink due to certain conditions like being on a respirator or being in a coma
  • Specific skin injuries like mouth sores, burns, and other skin infections or diseases (cases when water vapour escapes through damaged skin)

What are the symptoms?

The symptoms of dehydration may range from minor to major:

  • Increased thirst
  • Swollen tongue and dry mouth
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Heart palpitations
  • Confusion
  • Sluggishness
  • Feeling faint
  • The incapacity of the body to sweat
  • A lesser urine output
  • Urine that is amber or yellow in color (this sometimes indicates your body is dehydrated or starting to become dehydrated)

For babies and children, the signs and symptoms of dehydration are different. Usually, they involve the following:

  • Sunken eyes
  • Dry diapers due to the decrease of urination
  • The baby’s fontanel (situated on the front of their heads) is sunken and soft
  • No tears when the baby/child is crying
  • Lethargy
  • Irritability

How is dehydration treated?

There are several things you can do on your own to treat dehydration:

  • Drinking water consistently in small amounts.
  • Consuming electrolyte-containing or carbohydrate drinks such as Pedialyte or Gatorade.
  • Sucking the juices of popsicles made from sport drinks or juices
  • Sucking on ice cubes.
  • Using straw to sip water and other fluids (recommended to those who are suffering mouth sores or has had a jaw surgery).
  • Removing excess clothing.
  • Staying in air conditioned areas to help your body go back to a normal temperature.
  • Placing a wet towel around your body.
  • Cooling by evaporation through using misters or spray bottle to release a mist of lukewarm water to your skin.

Note that you shouldn’t expose your skin to too much cold by using ice water or ice packs. This may cause your blood vessels to constrict and decrease. If you believe that your dehydration is severe, do not hesitate to go to the hospital so you can receive professional treatment instead.

Dehydration is a serious ailment that should not be taken lightly. Be mindful of your body's hydration levels (by making sure you constantly drink enough water) and be very aware of the people around you in case they show these symptoms they might not even notice.

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