In medical terms dehydration is termed as excessive loss of body fluid. It can also be defined as the deficiency of fluid in an organism. In dehydration more amount of water move out of our body than the amount we take in.
Dehydration can be categorized under three main types i.e.-
- Hypotonic (electrolytes loss)
- Hypertonic or (loss of water) and
- Isotonic (loss of water as well as electrolytes)
- Increased thirst
- Dry mouth
- Nausea and vomiting
- Heart palpitations
- Muscle cramps
- Loss in urine discharge
- Sweating may stop
Dehydration occurs usually because of less water intake, or more water loss or a combination of both. The basic causes can be given as:
- Diarrhea: This is the commonest reason by which a person can get dehydrated. With every bowel movement, some amount of water is lost. According to statistics, more than 4 million children worldwide die each year due to dehydration.
- Vomiting: It can also be the cause for dehydration. It is lost in vomitus, but drinking alone cannot replace the fluid loss especially if the person cannot tolerate liquids.
- Sweat: The body loses a significant amount of water due to sweating in order to cool itself. Whether the body tries to cool itself because of hot climate or in case of heavy exercise and physical work, our body loses water in the form of sweat. This loss can be replaced by thirst mechanism by taking adequate amount of water.
- Burns: As skin acts as a barrier that shields our body, it is unable to resist the water loss if it gets damaged. So burn victims get dehydrated often.
- Excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages: The excessive consumption of alcohol results more urination which in turn dehydrates the body.
- Blood loss or hypotension due to physical trauma- These conditions can also trigger the onset of dehydration.
Dehydration can be diagnosed through clinical procedures. Initial evaluations can be discussed as:
- Mental status tests evaluate whether the person is alert and in proper senses.
- Fever may be checked.
- Vital signs may be checked which include pulse rate and blood pressure. Usually with dehydration pulse rate may increase and blood pressure may drop.
- Skin may be checked to assess the elasticity. Dehydrated skin is less elastic.
Laboratory testing may include urinalysis, kidney function tests which include BUN and CREATININE and some blood tests to check electrolytes abnormalities.
Dehydration is excessive loss of fluid and occurs when water intake is lesser than the amount body loses. Dehydration symptoms can be mild to severe so precautions should be taken.