During the hot summer months,
the nation’s emergency physicians are treating more people with heat-related
illnesses with a focus on staying cool and keeping hydrated.
“Dehydration is very
dangerous. It can lead to an emergency visit, and it can do significant damage
to your body if left untreated,” said Dr. Sandra Schneider with the American
College of Emergency Physicians.
“But dehydration is also easily preventable, especially if the cause is
Dehydration is when your body
does not have the amount of water or fluids that it is supposed to have in
order 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 of
Causes of Dehydration:
- Excessive sweating (from heat and/or
exercise) with fluids not being replaced
- Vomiting and diarrhea
- 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 or
if urine is concentrated and appears dark yellow
- Sunken eyes
Untreated severe dehydration
can 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 and
drink more when the weather is hot and/or you are exercising.
- Stay out of excessive heat if possible
and always make sure to wear light clothing, sun block and protect your head by
wearing a hat.
- Avoid alcoholic and caffeinated
beverages as they can worsen dehydration and are not a suitable source of
fluids for rehydration.
“Most of us would never leave
our homes and offices without our wallets, cell phones and sunglasses,” said
Dr. 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.”