Emergency Care For You

Health Tips

Dehydration comes on fast and can be fatal

During the hot summer months,the nation’s emergency physicians are treating more people with heat-relatedillnesses with a focus on staying cool and keeping hydrated.

“Dehydration is verydangerous. It can lead to an emergency visit, and it can do significant damageto your body if left untreated,” said Dr. Sandra Schneider with the AmericanCollege of Emergency Physicians. “But dehydration is also easily preventable, especially if the cause isexcessive heat.”

Dehydration is when your bodydoes not have the amount of water or fluids that it is supposed to have inorder to function.  According to the National Institute of Health, infants and children are more susceptible to dehydration than adults because their bodies are smaller and they have a higher turnover of water and electrolytes. The elderly as well as those with illnesses are also at a higher risk ofbecoming dehydrated.

Causes of Dehydration:  

  • Excessive sweating (from heat and/or exercise) with fluids not being replaced
  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Excessive urination (mainly with uncontrolled diabetes or the use of a diuretic)

Signs and Symptoms of Dehydration: 

  • Dry or sticky mouth
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Low blood pressure
  • Inability to produce tears
  • Low or no urine output for 8 hours orif urine is concentrated and appears dark yellow
  • Sunken eyes
  • Dizziness

Untreated severe dehydrationcan cause seizures, brain damage or even be fatal.  Most mild dehydration issues can simply be treated by drinking more water or fluids.  Moderate cases may result in a visit to the emergency department where a patient may need to be given fluids intravenously. 

Stay cautious!   Call your doctor or visit the nearest emergency department if you notice dehydration symptoms and believe that dehydration is developing with you or someone around you.

How to Prevent Dehydration: 

  • Drink plenty of fluids every day anddrink more when the weather is hot and/or you are exercising.
  • Stay out of excessive heat if possibleand always make sure to wear light clothing, sun block and protect your head bywearing a hat.
  • Avoid alcoholic and caffeinatedbeverages as they can worsen dehydration and are not a suitable source offluids for rehydration.

“Most of us would never leaveour homes and offices without our wallets, cell phones and sunglasses,” saidDr. Schneider.  “Add bottled water to that list, at least during the hot summer, it’ll help keep you cool,hydrated and hopefully out of the emergency department.”