What Is Dehydration? How does it Affect Different Age Groups?
Water is the essential requirement of all living beings. It is this element which keeps bodily functions running smoothly without hindrances. A human body consists of approximately 60% of water. In a normal day, a person has to consume a certain amount of liquids. When the requirement is not met is when the problem called dehydration begins. Both insufficient and excessive intake of water can be detrimental to normal bodily functions.
Dehydration is the state where body does not contain enough supply of water. This occurs mainly in hot weather conditions which could lead to illnesses like diarrhea and vomiting.
- And through tears and saliva
In most cases, dehydration is caused due to lack of water intake as we tend to get busy at work, studies and other daily activities. Dehydration usually occurs due to plenty of water loss from the body or not enough of intake, or more frequently the combination of the two.
Diabetes could also be one of the causes of dehydration. The elevated blood sugar levels cause flushing of water out of the body resulting in excess urine. But diabetes not just pushes out the water from a person’s body but also causes excessive thirst.
However, sometimes sore throat or common cold does not allow water intake due to throat pain leading to dehydration.
Dehydration in Different Age groups:
Hundreds of children die across the world every year due to dehydration, mainly diarrhea. The temperature and sweat mechanism are not well developed in children when compared to adults. Infants are dependants on their care-takers for their nutrition. They may not ask their parents for food and water most of the times. Enough fluids must be given to them in order to avoid dehydration. In addition to this, access to clean drinking water could also lead to constant dehydration.
Children and infants respond to fluids while they are dehydrated. Sipping of ORS (oral rehydration solution) would benefit them a lot. This process of interval-based liquid intake helps them in faster recovery. This process is only helpful when vomiting does not occur, as it could worsen the situation.
But if the child is too sick even sipping at intervals becomes difficult, leading to requirement of immediate medical care. If the situation does not get better blood test is compulsory. It is very essential to find out the right cause of the illness.
Dehydration is not the same case in everyone. Some adults would be at higher risk, especially pregnant women and elderly. A significant amount of water from our body is lost which could be approximately 2.6%, excess amount of water loss leads to dehydration.
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Severe dehydration can also result in seizures, hypernatremia, heat exhaustion and other critical conditions.
- Dry mouth
- Muscle cramps
- Minimal urine output
- Fatigue and lethargy
- Chapped lips/dry skin
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Approximately 2 to 2.5 liters of water must be consumed by an adult everyday on a regular basis. These symptoms must be kept in mind and appropriate steps should be taken to curtail further damage.
It should be kept in mind that water is not the only source of fluid intake, but natural juices and other food items also increase water content in the body. Any activity that causes you to sweat and fastens your heartbeat will leave you dehydrated.
Electrolyte powder mixed in water is the best way to stay hydrated. Frozen pops in summer are a fun way to hydrate oneself. Avoiding high sugar based drinks would benefit the body a great deal as sugar based drinks tend to dehydrate the body faster.
Dehydration is a common problem among elderly populace. It may not always depend on the heat outside. Our body’s mechanisms are built in such a way that they protect us from dehydration, but unfortunately these defenses weaken with age. The older adults especially have low thirst signals and are prone to dehydration compared to people from other age groups.
- People living in old age or retirement homes are dependent on their care takers; hence, drinking water at regular intervals becomes difficult
- Difficulty in swallowing makes drinking fluids an uneasy task
- Mobility creates a problem for them to reach out for hydration sometimes
- Memory loss, they usually forget that they have to drink water at particular times, which leaves them dehydrated
- Lastly, older adults are most of the times on medications which tends to make them dehydrated.
As can be seen above, it is vital for people to ensure they keep themselves hydrated despite their demanding routines as a hydrated body is a healthy body.