Dehydration is a more or less severe decrease in the amount of water in the body, which also affects the concentration of electrolytes. Children need special care, the elderly and the sick.
1. What is dehydration?
Water. Essential to life and proper functioning of the body.
Dehydration is the lack of water needed for the body. May be due to excessive loss of fluids through sweat, vomit, diarrhea, to excessive discharge of urine (diuretic drug or untreated diabetes) or a lack of fluid intake. As a result, alter the body’s functions and appear a number of clinical signs ranging from thirst or dry skin to coma and death in extreme cases.
Normally, you lose a certain amount of water daily through breathing, sweat (a pint a day) and urine, and tears, or feces.
But not infrequently occurring abnormal losses due to vomiting, diarrhea, fever, or dehydration from excessive heat. Excessive losses may also occur in the urine in certain diseases such as uncontrolled diabetes or intake of drugs called diuretics that promote urination.
In other cases there may be loss of fluid from burns or internal or external bleeding.
2. Also altered minerals
According to the form of waste water is not lost alone, but carries with it a number of minerals or electrolytes. In other circumstances, the lost water, there is an increased concentration of salts. This results in a series of changes called electrolyte disturbance.
Thus, besides water, electrolytes are lost in the following CIRCUMSTANCES:
- Diarrhea is lost in baking.
- With severe vomiting and diarrhea, potassium is lost.
- With diuretics, especially thiazide-called, and the drugs used in psychiatric treatment or nicotine, sodium is lost.
- With an excessive loss of urine potassium is lost.
Other times there is an increased concentration of salts:
- With the vomiting and diuretics increases plasma bicarbonate.
- There hypernatremia (increased sodium) by copious sweat in hot or humid environment, especially in gastrointestinal losses childhood diarrhea, loss of water through the skin and breathing, especially feverish, excessive urine loss and diabetes insipidus diabetes insipidus.
3. Symptoms of dehydration
- Sed. One of the first symptoms of the need for water in the body. This feeling drives us to drink the water we need. However, there are two population groups in which this mechanism is not sufficient: in infants, who can not speak or get the water they need for themselves, and the elderly, where the sensation of thirst diminishes even need to ingest water .
- Decreased urination. Urinating less and less frequently. This is a consequence of the efforts of the kidney to concentrate urine and remove as little water as possible.
- Dry skin. The skin loses its elasticity and in extreme cases producing what he calls the “sign of the fold” to pinch the skin, the back of the hand for example, the skin is elevated, wrinkled and takes too long to return to their place. In addition, the skin is cold and pale. The skin condition is a more valuable indicator in children than in adults and elderly by the natural loss of skin elasticity own age.
- Dry mucous like dry skin, occurs in the absence of extracellular water. Decreases or blocks the formation of mucus and nasal passages dry out. Decreased production of saliva and mouth feel thick.
- Tiredness, dizziness and / or confusion. The brain receives less oxygen by decreasing the amount of circulating blood. Water shortage affects the entire body, also decreasing blood volume, which lowers blood pressure and cardiac output. To compensate for low blood oxygen reaching the cells, it causes increased heart rate and blood pulse.
- If water and electrolyte loss progresses, hypovolemic shock can happen (for losses exceeding 15-25% of blood volume), which is a serious situation that requires urgent treatment because it can lead to coma and death without sufficient blood supply to different organs and tissues that are injured.
4. Special care
The dehydration is more dangerous in children and the elderly and the sick.
4.1. In infants
Dehydration in infants is particularly severe. The most common cause is loss of water through vomiting or diarrhea, or lack of water intake or by taking little water or by offering more prepared bottles of milk powder concentration of which is the amount of water.
The dehydrated baby wets fewer diapers, (normal is to dip them every 3 to 4 hours) and urine is darker, the skin is less elastic, the mouth and tongue are dry eyes are sunken, irritable and crying without tears.
The fontanelles (unossified still areas of the skull) are stranded, lost weight, decreased alertness (being able to coma in severe situations) and may have high fever.
To prevent it we must offer the child water at short intervals and monitor how much urine.
We must be strict when preparing baby bottles, dippers adding milk corresponding to the amount of water and also making up these dippers well to ensure that the proportion of water and powder is suitable.
It is important to consult a physician if vomiting or diarrhea.
We should not expose infants to high temperatures or direct sun. Of course, not ever leave a baby or a child (or anyone, nor Siqueros an animal) in a closed car for a minute when temperatures are high, as it can die from heat.
4.2. In the elderly
In the elderly are also problematic dehydration and can have serious consequences mild dehydration because they may unbalance the basic diseases.
The most common cause of dehydration in the elderly is the lack of food and fluid loss from vomiting or diarrhea or taking diuretics.
In the elderly decreases the sensation of thirst, but thirst nullify some neurological diseases such as dementia.
Other times there are alterations that prevent drinking as digestive diseases or states of unconsciousness.
Even the elderly have to drink water every so often, even if not thirsty, to monitor the time and the amount you urinate, be careful with the medicines they take, making it exclusively on the advice of your doctor, not exposed to high temperatures or the sun without protection .
If we are in charge of an old man, we must be attentive to their level of consciousness and the presence of dizziness, especially when changing positions or incorporated. Other symptoms of advanced dehydration can be headache, nausea, cramps or hypotension.
4.3. In other cases
Sick people require special attention to dehydration, especially in pathologies where there is a failure or fluid retention in those in which the loss of water and electrolyte disturbances especially aggravated underlying pathology.
In children and adults with excessive urination (urinating a lot), we should see a doctor especially if personal or family history of diabetes.
In adolescents with high physical activity and athletes also often excessive water loss through sweating.
Must be prevented by maintaining a regular fluid intake (especially energy drinks) and avoid excessive exercise, exercising no sun or high heat, wearing cotton clothing as not to increase sweating and resting frequently.