Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Dehydration - Public Awareness

Good Afternoon Everyone. 

As the scorching heat of summer sun is upon us I thought it would be a great time to write something about Dehydration, it's symptoms, negative impacts and remedies.

We all know how important water is for human life and well being so it is also a common knowledge how bad dehydration is. Moreover there are some surprising effects of even mild dehydration that you may not be aware of.

Dehydration : What is it?

In common term dehydration means excessive loss of body fluid, mostly water. Dehydration effects metabolism which is the life sustaining chemical reactions within the cells of living organism. In addition to this metabolism failure dehydration is associated with increased risk for falls, gum disease and bladder cancer. It also causes Hypernatremia which is dangerous level of sodium in the blood stream that can cause bleeding in or around the brain. Let me get this straight, people might not take dehydration seriously but in severe cases it can cause death.

Causes of Dehydration:

1. Fever,
2. Heat Exposure,
3. Too much exercise (Without taking adequate water, especially in a hot/dry environment),
4. Sweating, Vomiting, Diarrhea, Diabetes,
5. Inability to seek appropriate water and food,
6. Prolonged exposure to dry air, e.g., in high-flying airplanes (5%–12% relative humidity)
7. Burns,
8. Blood Loss,
9. Excessive consumption of Alcoholic Beverages,
10. Fasting(Without drinking proper amount of water),
11. Habitation at high altitude,
12. Drinking excessive coffee might lead to dehydration,
13. Diuresis

Signs and Symptoms of Dehydration :

 1. Headaches (similar to what is experienced during a hangover) ,
 2. Decreased blood pressure,
 3. Dizziness or fainting, Sluggishness or lethargy(a state of comatose),
 4. Thirst and Discomfort,
 5. Dry or Sticky throat, Swollen Tongue,
 6. Decreased urine output,
 7. Dry skin or Inability to sweat,
 8. Constipation (a condition in which there is difficulty in emptying the bowels, usually associated with hardened feces),
 9. Palpitations (feeling that the heart is jumping or pounding)
10. Confusion.
11. Purple fingernail,
12. Seizure.

A simple Self Test:

If you urinate at least four times daily and the urine is colorless or pale yellow, you are probably well-hydrated.

How Much Water is Needed?

The exact amount of water totally depends on the person, his age, surrounding environment, activity level etc.

Even though we often hear people say we should drink eight glasses of water a day, there isn’t really any scientific evidence to support that statement. The first official recommendation for water consumption was issued in 2004 by the Institute of Medicine, the health arm of the government-sponsored National Academy of Sciences. This so-called adequate intake (AI) for males age 19 and older is 15 eight-ounce cups daily and for females of the same age group, 11 cups daily. Which is about 3.5 liter for male and about 2.6 liter for female.

Sound like a lot of liquid? Remember this represents total water intake, including the water that comes from food and for most people which amounts to roughly 20% to 25% of the total. When focusing on water alone, the AI includes about 13 cups of beverages, including water, for males age 19 and older and 9 cups for females of the same age group.

Dangers of Dehydration :

Let's talk about major dangers here.

Urinary tract infection: Study shows that when female factory workers significantly increased their water intake and urination frequency by three times or more during their shifts for two years, the rate of urinary tract infections dropped from 9.8% to 1.6%. Places where good sanitary condition is not available people tend to avoid using those facilities and to prevent frequent urination they drink less water and might suffer more from such infection. Not to mention this problem is more pronounced in third world countries.

Bladder cancer: Not all research findings agree, but one large study that followed 47,000 men for 10 years found that those with the highest levels of fluid consumption (10.6 cups daily) had half the risk for bladder cancer as men who consumed the least fluids (5.5 cups).

Key Risk Factors:

Some people are at higher risk for acute and chronic dehydration than others.

Age. The sensation of thirst is blunted as we age, so "drink when you’re thirsty" becomes a less reliable guide. For many people, appetite also lessens with age so you can end up getting less water from food. Other indirect age-related factors also may come into play. For example, people troubled by incontinence often limit water intake.

Exercise. During exercise, you lose more water through sweating. So make sure that you drink enough water when you exercise generally one to two cups before, One to two cups during and one to two cups after your workout. This is especially important in hot and humid weather or at high altitudes.

Illness. Many chronic illnesses (diabetes and kidney disease among them) raise the risk for dehydration. Diarrhea and vomiting can present an acute dehydration danger and water alone won’t replace the minerals, such as sodium and potassium, that you lose. If either is severe or prolonged, or if you can’t keep liquids down, consult your doctor.

Treatment :

When dehydration is mild to moderate, the treatment is simple that is drink more liquids.(Plain water restores only the volume of the blood plasma, inhibiting the thirst mechanism before solute levels can be replenished. Better mix table salt and sugar with water & drink it, or saline can be used)

Severe dehydration is a medical emergency that requires immediate medical help. Some symptoms are the same as those for mild dehydration but greatly magnified such as extreme thirst, profound sleepiness or lethargy and very dry mouth. Sweating and urination come to a virtual halt.
Older adults especially may experience irritability and lethargy, while severe dehydration also may lead to delirium (marked by disorientation and delusions) or unconsciousness.
If you experience any of these symptoms - or witness them in another person, especially an older adult then immediately contact a doctor.

For severe cases of dehydration where fainting, unconsciousness, or other severely inhibiting symptom is present (the patient is incapable of standing or thinking clearly), emergency attention is required. Fluids containing a proper balance of replacement electrolytes are given orally or intravenously with continuing assessment of electrolyte status; complete resolution is the norm in all but the most extreme cases.

Final Words: 

To prevent dehydration simply drink more water. Water must be pure!
Going out for exercise ? Take a bottle of water with you.
Working hard? Don't forget to drink water.
Playing football? Drink water during the game!
Remember sea-water and alcohol will make things worse so try to get fresh water.

So stay well and well Hydrated.

Information Source : Internet and Books.

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