dehydration

Dehydration – Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis And Treatment

Dehydration also medically known as exsiccosis occurs when your body loses or uses more fluid than it intakes. Due to your body’s inability to have enough water reserve, it finds it difficult to perform its normal function. So, you need to replace the lost fluid effectively. Else, you can suffer from exsiccosis. Anyone can suffer from loss of fluid. So, it is a common problem, which you can overcome by drinking more fluid. In some cases, the problem can escalate, especially in older people and young children. Never underestimate the problem. While it is easy to manage mild to moderate exsiccosis by taking in enough fluids, you need medical treatment for severe cases as it can lead to fatal results. Take the necessary steps to ensure you never face the complications due to the condition.

About Dehydration

dehydration Exsiccosis can occur in people of any age group. You need to drink adequate fluids, especially in hot weather or when you perform vigorous exercise. Why does a simple problem like dehydration can escalate into a life-threatening issue? It is because the human body has water as a critical element. Apart from maintaining hydration, it also allows your body to function properly. Your body constitutes 60% of water. So, you can find most of the water in the intercellular space (cells of the body) and the rest in the interstitial space (space between cells). Without enough fluid, the function of these cells disrupts. So, you can see symptoms of distress due to the lack of fluids. You suffer from exsiccosis due to minor illnesses like bladder or lung infection. It can trigger the loss of fluids in older adults.

So, how do you suffer from exsiccosis? It usually occurs when the amount of fluid leaving your body is greater than the amount of fluid intake. Your body is dynamic, which changes constantly. It is true for the water content in your body. You lose water when you perform the following:

  • When you breathe and you exhale humidified air. It is especially true on a cold day when you can see your breath you exhale containing water.
  • Sweating for cooling your body
  • Flush out the waste and toxins from the body by urinating or having a bowel movement

So, on a normal day, you need to drink a good amount of water to replace the fluids you lose due to the body functions mentioned above.

Symptoms Of Dehydration

You think thirst is the indicator of fewer fluids in the body. But, it is not always the early indicator of fluid deficiency in the body. People in their advanced ages and others do not feel thirsty until they suffer from exsiccosis. Therefore, you need to increase your fluid intake during illness or hot weather. It helps in replenishing the fluid levels. The signs associated with dehydration vary with age.

Symptoms Of Dehydration In Infants/Young Child

The loss of fluid in the body and exsiccosis is characterized by the following symptoms:

  • No tears while crying
  • Dry mouth as well as tongue
  • Diapers are not wet for three hours
  • Sunken soft spot on the skull
  • Sunken eyes and cheeks
  • Irritability or listlessness

Symptoms Of Dehydration In Adults

Exsiccosis in adults has different symptoms. So, people need to observe for the following that indicates the problem:

  • Feeling extreme thirst
  • Dark-colored urine
  • Less frequency of urination
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Confusion

When To See A Doctor For Dehydration

While acute exsiccosis goes away when you drink enough water or other fluids, some cases need immediate medical attention. If you see the following signs, contact a doctor immediately:

  • Suffer from diarrhea for 24 hours or more
  • Have trouble keeping down fluids
  • Feels disoriented or irritable
  • Experience exhaustion
  • Sleepy feeling or less active than normal
  • See black or bloody stools

When you or your loved ones suffer from the above-mentioned symptoms, then see a doctor immediately.

Causes Of Dehydration

Exsiccosis occurs due to simple reasons. Your body needs to maintain fluid balance. When it disrupts due to different reasons like:

  • When you travel to a different location
  • Go for a hike or camping
  • Suffer from illness or sickness
  • Fail to drink the water due to a busy schedule
  • Stop drinking water due to lack of safe drinking water

Some other causes of exsiccosis include:

Diarrhea/Vomiting

Diarrhea/Vomiting

Severe watery stools or vomiting that occurs suddenly and violently can lead to tremendous loss of fluids from the body. It results in the severe loss of electrolytes in a short period. This disrupts the electrolyte balance in your body. Some people experience vomiting and diarrhea simultaneously. This can result in losing important electrolytes. The electrolyte is necessary for the body as they are minerals required for controlling the blood chemistry, muscles, and organ processes. Electrolytes are present in your urine, blood, and other fluids in the body. Due to severe vomiting and diarrhea, you can face complications like stroke or go into a coma.

Fever

Fever

People suffering from high fever tend to lose body fluid. It is because your body attempts to cool to lower high temperature through the skin surface. Fever can make you sweat profusely. So, without drinking fluids to replenish, you can end up dehydrated. In short, high fever is linked to severe exsiccosis. The problem worsens when you suffer from vomiting and dehydration in addition to fever.

Excessive Sweating

Excessive Sweating

Sweating is a natural process occurring to control body temperature and ensure natural cooling. So, when you feel hot, the sweat glands in your body activates. It releases fluids in the form of sweat to cool your skin surface. So, when the moisture on your skin evaporates, it cools your body as it takes out a part of heat with it. Excessive sweating means more evaporation to cool your body. In normal cases, sweating is essential to hydrate your skin and maintain the electrolyte balance in the body. You need to replace the fluids you have lost due to excessive sweating. With rehydration, your chances of becoming dehydrated are high. The risk of exsiccosis increases in hot and humid weather due to the high amount of fluid loss.

Increased Urination

In normal cases, urination is the normal process of your body to flush out the toxins from the body. But, due to underlying health issues or medicine intake, the chemical balance disrupts. It leads to increased urine output. Excess urination can result in the loss of fluids. It can occur due to uncontrolled or undiagnosed diabetes. Taking certain blood pressure medication or diuretics can also lead to exsiccosis. The increased urge to urinate and failure to replace the lost fluids by drinking more water enhance the risk of developing dehydration.

Risk Factors Associated With Dehydration

Exsiccosis can occur in any person. It is a common problem that all people suffer at some point in their life. But, certain people are more at risk of the problem compared to others.

Infants And Children

The most likely group to experience excess fluid loss are children and infants. They lose fluid due to excessive vomiting or diarrhea. Children are more susceptible to food poisoning or bacterial/viral infection causing excess fluid loss. Small children have a higher surface area to the volume area. So, it causes a loss of a higher proportion of the fluid due to burns or fever. Since children cannot convey their thirst or cannot get water by themselves, they suffer from dehydration.

People With Advanced Age

Older adults can suffer from exsiccosis due to the fluid reserve in the body becoming smaller due to advanced age. The problem becomes more complicated when people suffer from chronic illnesses like dementia and diabetes. The use of certain medications also results in loss of fluid. The mobility problems can limit the ability of the old age people to get water for themselves.

Underlying Chronic Illnesses

If you suffer from chronic illnesses like uncontrolled or undiagnosed diabetes, it causes issues like exsiccosis. Kidney problems can put you at risk of excess fluid loss. Some medications can increase the urge of urination, leading to the loss of fluids from the body. Sore throat or suffering from cold also puts you at risk of loss of fluids due to your inability to eat or drink properly.

Performing Physical Activity Outside

Working out or performing rigorous physical work outside in the sun puts you at risk of heat illnesses like sun rash poisoning, heatstroke, and exsiccosis. You lose fluids from your body due to humid air. It limits the evaporation of sweat as quickly as in normal cases. So, it increases your body temperature, leading to excessive thirst.

Athletes/Sportsperson

Athletes exposed to the direct sun aren’t the only ones at risk for dehydration. Bodybuilders and swimmers are among the athletes who commonly develop the condition, too. Strange as it may seem, it’s possible to sweat in water. Swimmers lose a lot of sweat when swimming.

Complications Due To Dehydration

Most of exsiccosis cases alleviate when you take some steps at home to hydrate. But, infants, children, people with a weakened immune system or people with advanced age need to see a doctor immediately. Without proper medical assistance, the condition can trigger serious complications. It includes:

Heat Injury

Excess sweating and loss of fluids due to vigorously exercise or physical activity can lead to heat injury. Without proper rehydration at regular intervals, people can suffer from mild to severe heat cramps or heat exhaustion. In severe cases, it can lead to a life-threatening stroke.

Urinary/Kidney Problems

Repeated or prolonged bouts of exsiccosis can cause problems to your urinary systems. It can cause kidney stones, urinary tract infections, and in extreme cases, kidney failure.

Seizures

Seizures

Excess fluid loss can disrupt the electrolytic balance. So, it can cause an imbalance in potassium and sodium levels in the body. These electrolytes are responsible for carrying electrical signals from cells to cells in your body. Due to the electrolytic imbalance, your body mixes up the normal electrical messages. So, it leads to involuntary muscle actions like seizures, which can sometimes lead to loss of consciousness.

Hypovolemic Shock

Hypovolemic Shock

Also known as low blood volume shock, it is one of the most serious complications associated with dehydration. The life-threatening complication occurs due to the low blood volume due to excess fluid loss. It can result in a drastic drop in blood pressure as well as the oxygen levels in the body. It requires immediate medical attention to avoid fatal results.

Diagnosing Dehydration

Simple signs like thirst can indicate exsiccosis. But, severe cases need medical attention. So, the doctor can detect the problem based on the other physical symptoms as well as signs. Your doctor can suggest the following tests to detect the conditions:

Physical Assessment

During the assessment of the different signs suffered by the person due to fluid loss, your doctor focuses on the following:

Take Vital Signs

Your doctor takes vital signs. It includes taking the pulse rate and blood pressure (postural readings) while standing as well as lying down. When you suffer from an excess fluid loss in the body, the pulse rate and blood pressure drops. It is because of the depletion in fluid in the body that also causes reduced blood flow to your extremities. People who take medications to lower blood pressure or prevent heart disease can lose their ability to raise the heart rate due to fluid loss. It is the compensation mechanism of the body as the medication can affect the function of adrenaline receptors in the body.

Mental Status Evaluation

To diagnose exsiccosis, the doctor can perform tests to evaluate the mental status of the patient. So, the tests detect if you are alert, awake, and oriented. Small children appear restless and cry frequently due to listlessness. Such children also tend to have decreased muscle tone.

Record Temperature

The doctor checks the temperature to assess fever. It is common to measure the temperature by inserting the thermometer in the mouth (orally) or in the ear (also known as tympanic). But, in some cases, the doctor measures the core body temperature by inserting the thermometer in the rectum if the doctor does not see an increase in oral or tympanic temperature, but the patient appears warm.

Check Skin Appearance

Doctors check the skin appearance. The presence of sweat and turgor (the degree of elasticity) can detect exsiccosis. With severe dehydration, your skin tends to lose the water content. So, it becomes less elastic. Due to the condition, you produce less moisture in the armpit and groin region that otherwise tend sweats.

Dry Mouth

The dryness of the mouth is another indication of the problem. So, your doctor can look or feel the tongue to check for wetness.

Additional Evaluation For Children/Infants

Apart from the above-mentioned physical evaluations, the pediatrician can check for other signs in a child/infant to detect dehydration:

Check For Signs

Doctor check for the sunken fontanelle (the soft spot on the skull of the child), loss of sweat in the groin and armpits, suck mechanism assessment, and muscle tone. The signs can indicate potential dehydration.

Weigh The Child

Weigh The Child

In most cases, pediatric patients are weighed even during the routine visit to the doctor. It helps detect any weight loss causes due to any acute illness. But, these readings only offer a rough estimate as all scales are not the same. The dress they wear during the initial weighing process also holds significance. But, drastic weight loss indicates exsiccosis.

Lab Tests

Apart from the physical assessment tests, your doctor suggests lab tests to confirm the diagnosis. It can also pinpoint the exact cause of exsiccosis. So, the doctor can suggest the following:

Blood Tests

You need to provide a sample of your blood to the laboratory. The pathologist can check for several factors in your blood like:

  • Electrolyte levels in the body (like potassium and sodium)
  • Working of your kidney

Urinalysis

By providing a sample of your urine, it becomes easy to determine dehydration. The tests like urinalysis can help shed light on exsiccosis and the degree of the problem. It also detects the presence of infection like a bladder infection, which causes exsiccosis.

Treatment For Dehydration

The effective treatment for exsiccosis is rehydration. It replaces the lost fluids and electrolytes from your body to maintain the balance. When you see the symptoms of the condition, seek a doctor’s assistance. Your doctor devises a treatment strategy based on your age, cause, and severity of the condition. So, the treatment options available are:

Treatment For Children And Infants

The treatment for infants or children who suffer from dehydration depends on the severity of the issue. But, it is better to take the child to the doctor immediately when you suspect the condition. It is because the condition escalates quickly from mild to severe. The options available are:

Mild Cases Of Dehydration

Children or infants who suffer from exsiccosis due to severe vomiting, diarrhea, or fever need to take the over-the-counter rehydration solution. You get ORS packets that contain salts in specific proportions. By mixing it in water and giving it to the child replenishes fluids as well as electrolytes. You can start with a teaspoon of ORS (approx. five milliliters) between one to five minutes. When the children have increased tolerance, you can give more. For infants, instead of a spoon, use a syringe. Older children can also take diluted sports drinks (one part water and one part sports drink).

Severe Cases Of Dehydration

Children who face severe loss of fluids need emergency treatment. So, it is important to take them to the emergency room to give fluids and salts intravenously. The rehydration offered intravenously ensures quick absorption and speedy recovery.

Treatment For Dehydration In Adults

Most adults who suffer from mild to moderate cases of exsiccosis due to issues like severe vomiting, diarrhea, or fever need to alleviate the condition by rehydrating.

Mild To Moderate Cases In Adults

Drinking more fluids like water or other liquid can offer rehydration. But, if your fluid loss occurs due to diarrhea, the avoid drinking soft drinks or full-strength fruit juice. Exsiccosis occurring due to working or exercising outdoors in hot weather, then cool water can offer rehydration. Drinking sports drinks with electrolytes as well as carbohydrate solutions offers relief.

The success of rehydration therapy is monitored by measuring the urine output. When you lose water from the body, your kidneys tend to hold on to fluid as much as possible. So, it can decrease urine output and urine looks concentrated. With successful treatment, your kidneys tend to increase the output of urine. The reason is the fluid intake increases within the kidney’s intravascular space.

Severe Cases In Adults

Adults suffer from severe cases due to underlying illness or trouble controlling vomiting, fever or diarrhea. In such cases, getting immediate medical help is necessary. Getting fluids through the intravenous method can offer hydration.

Preventing Dehydration

As your body constitutes mainly of water, you need to drink plenty of fluids each day to maintain the balance. To keep the balance, you have to drink water and eat foods high in water like vegetables as well as fruits. For healthy people, thirst offers a guideline to ensure you take an adequate amount of fluids. But, you need to consume more fluids when you experience the following:

Suffer From Diarrhea/Vomiting

Infants, children or adults can experience vomiting due to various conditions. In women, vomiting is one of the early signs of pregnancy. So, it is better to start drinking extra water or ORS rehydration solution. The remedy is also applicable for people suffering from diarrhea. But, it is ideal to take fluids as soon as you see the first sign of illness. Waiting until loss of fluids becomes extreme can lead to severe complications.

Hydrate Before Strenuous Exercise

If you perform strenuous exercise, then you need to start hydrating a day before. Since you have more chances of losing fluids through sweating, try hydrating before, during, and after the exercise. Producing clear, dilute urine is an indication of a well-hydrated body. So, replenish fluids at regular intervals when you perform strenuous physical activity. Drink water or other fluids for hydration.

Drink Water In Hot/Cold Weather

It is important to drink more water in hot or humid weather. Drinking more fluids helps lower your body temperature. So, it is essential to hydrate to replace fluids lost due to sweating. It is important to drink more fluids in cold weather too. Yes, you heard it right. It is because you need the extra fluid to combat moisture loss from your body due to dry air. So, it is necessary to hydrate in cold weather, particularly for people living in higher altitudes.

Overcome Illness

In people with advanced age, exsiccosis occurs due to minor illnesses like bronchitis, influenza or bladder infection. So, they need to get proper treatment apart from drinking water to feel good and ensure hydration.

Conclusion

Dehydration is a common problem with easy treatment options. For mild cases, you can take the necessary steps at home to get an adequate amount of fluid to resolve the problem. With the right steps and care, the simple issues can resolve within a day. But, severe cases require immediate hospitalization. Only proper medical care can alleviate the problem. It will take two to three days to resolve severe issues with treatment. So, take the right decision and ensure the simple problem does not escalate to life-threatening complications.

View Article Sources
  • https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dehydration/symptoms-causes/syc-20354086
  • https://www.healthline.com/health/dehydration
  • https://www.medicinenet.com/dehydration/article.html

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