Dehydration: Applying First Aid

    Dehydration: Applying First Aid

    When the summer season is in full swing, temperatures can rise to dangerous levels. Without the proper knowledge, one can easily become dehydrated. Dehydration happens when there is not enough water and electrolytes stored in the body. In these cases, you should immediately drink water or replenish with other fluids and apply basic first aid for dehydration.

    Learn more about how’s and the why’s of dehydration, and what you can do to prevent it from happening to you.

    What is Dehydration?

    Dehydration is when the body loses more fluid than it takes in. The human body loses a lot of fluid by carrying out normal body functions like sweating or urinating. Whatever fluid we lose, we replenish it by eating or drinking.

    Mild cases of dehydration can usually be reversed by simply drinking more liquids. However, dehydration, if left untreated can become severe and may require medical attention.

    What Causes Dehydration?

    One common culprit of dehydration is simply not drinking enough water. Nothing beats an ice-cold soda on a hot summer day, but you would be better off drinking cold water to replenish the fluid balance in your body.

    If you are a fan of coffee, you may want to limit how much coffee you drink especially if it is a particularly hot day or if you have been engaging in a lot of physical activity. Coffee is a diuretic, which means that it can cause you to pee more. Although the link between dehydration and coffee is still being debated, it is better to avoid this drink if you are trying to stay hydrated.

    Other common causes of dehydration are the following:

    • Vomiting or diarrhea. Diarrhea and vomiting can cause a person to suddenly lose an unhealthy amount of water and electrolytes. Experiencing both vomiting and diarrhea at the same time can make you dehydrated faster.
    • Increased urination. Some conditions involving the kidneys can cause a person to urinate more often. Diabetes, which causes the kidneys to become overworked, can also cause increased urination that can lead to dehydration.
    • Excessive sweating. If you are exercising without intaking any fluids, in a hot and humid environment then you will be more likely to get dehydrated.
    • Fever. The body becomes more and more prone to dehydration if a fever is left untreated.

    Who is at Risk of Dehydration?

    Dehydration can happen to anyone, but some conditions and factors make some people more prone to dehydration. The following are those who are most at risk:

    • Older adults. Some elderly folk slowly lose their ability to feel thirst, which makes it easier for them to become dehydrated.
    • Children and infants. Aside from their obvious smaller body surface area, this age group is more susceptible to dehydration because they are prone to fevers, vomiting, and diarrhea. Infants and younger children can also get dehydrated because they may not know how to express that they are thirsty.
    • People suffering from chronic illnesses. Some medical conditions can cause a person to sweat or urinate more often, apart from already rendering the patients depleted of normal nutrition, which may lead to dehydration.
    • People who work or exercise in hot areas. Exercising or working under the heat of the sun can cause a person to rapidly lose fluids.

    Possible Symptoms of Dehydration

    Mild dehydration might not cause symptoms initially. However, as dehydration gets worse, a person could experience some of the symptoms below.

    If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, it is best to drink water as soon as possible:

    • Extreme thirst
    • Dizziness
    • Urine that is much darker than usual
    • Peeing less than four times a day
    • Fatigue
    • Dry lips, mouth, skin and eyes

    If you are experiencing the following symptoms together with those previously mentioned, call a doctor immediately:

    • Bloody or black feces
    • Disorientation, evident weakness or feeling sleepier than usual
    • Unable to tolerate fluids orally
    • Experiencing diarrhea for more than a day

    These may be warning signs of severe dehydration and may require immediate dehydration treatment.

    Dehydration: First Aid

    Children

    Mild dehydration can easily be treated at home by replenishing all the lost fluids and electrolytes. First aid for dehydration entails using an oral rehydration solution to alleviate symptoms caused by dehydration in children. It is recommended that this solution is first given in small amounts to gauge whether or not the child can tolerate it. It is also advised that the solution be diluted with water.

    Teens and adults

    For older children and adults, drinking water with oral rehydration salts can help with mild dehydration. It is important that only clear liquids like water or clear broth be given to a person suffering from dehydration because juice or soda may worsen their condition.

    If a person is experiencing dehydration from heat exhaustion, make sure to bring them to a cooler environment. First aid for heat exhaustion also involves immediate replenishing of fluids through water or other beverages that do not contain caffeine or alcohol.

    If you suspect that you or a loved one is suffering from heat exhaustion, you should:

    • Get them to lie down, and elevate their legs
    • Make sure to get rid of any clothing that is restrictive
    • Wipe them down with a sponge or towel soaked in cool water

    first aid for dehydration

    Dehydration: Prevention

    The prevention of dehydration is much easier than treating it. Here are a few easy ways to stay hydrated:

    • Drink as much water as you can. If you are going to work or exercise outdoors, make sure to drink plenty of fluids before the activity and stay hydrated as you exercise or work.
    • If the weather is hotter than usual, try to avoid staying outdoors for too long.
    • Avoid sugary or caffeinated drinks, and opt for water instead.
    • Check the color of your urine from time to time. If your urine appears to be a darker shade, it means you need more water.

    Key Takeaways

    Dehydration can have severe consequences on a person’s health. This is why it is important to remember to stay hydrated if you are located in hot climates, or if you have existing medical conditions that make you more at risk of getting dehydrated. Learn and apply basic first aid for dehydration if the symptoms are mild.

    If you or someone you know is feeling faint, or experiencing seizures along with the symptoms of dehydration, call emergency services or see a doctor immediately.

    Learn more about Healthy Habits here.

    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Sources

    Dehydration, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dehydration/symptoms-causes/syc-20354086, Accessed June 23, 2020

    Dehydration, https://medlineplus.gov/dehydration.html, Accessed June 23, 2020

    Diabetes symptoms: When diabetes symptoms are a concern, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/diabetes/in-depth/diabetes-symptoms/art-20044248, Accessed June 23, 2020

    Heat exhaustion: First Aid, https://www.mayoclinic.org/first-aid/first-aid-heat-exhaustion/basics/art-20056651, Accessed June 23, 2020

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    Written by Kip Soliva Updated 3 weeks ago
    Medically reviewed by Regina Victoria Boyles, MD