Dehydration – The Symptoms And Consequences Of Losing Body Fluid
Dehydration is a condition in which the water in the body drops below normal levels either as a result of water loss or not drinking enough water. All living creature including plants and animals needs water to survive. Water is very vital for life as it facilitates the metabolism and physiological processes necessary for survival.
It is important to note that while we take in water, other processes make the body lose water, and this includes; sweating, pooing, urinating, vomiting, through tears, diarrhea, and other ailments thus making one feel thirsty.
Being thirsty is an obvious sign that you are dehydrated, this means that the body is low in fluid needed to function properly.
Sometimes, being dehydrated does not just mean the body is losing fluid; it could also mean that the body is losing vital electrolytes such as sodium, potassium, phosphates and chlorides which help the body maintains intercellular and extracellular homeostasis which is vital for various part of the body to carry out a specific function to stay alive.
Symptoms of Dehydration
There are acute and chronic (mild and severe) forms of dehydration. The symptoms of acute/mild dehydration include;
- Dry or sticky mouth
- Reduced volume of urine
- Urine color appear dark yellow
- Dry, cool skin
- Muscle cramps
Symptoms of Chronic/Severe Dehydration Includes;
- Feelings of urination but no urine comes out.
- Urine color appears very dark yellow
- Skin appears very dry
- Dizzy Feeling/ light-headed
- Heartbeat increases rapidly
- Rapid breathing
- Sunken eyes
- Feeling sleepy, lack of energy and confusion
Those That Are More Prone To Dehydration
Everyone get dehydrated at some point but some people are more prone to dehydration and these are;
- Infants and young children are prone to fever, diarrhea, and vomiting thus losing water. They can’t tell you they are thirsty nor get their drink.
- Older adults often don’t realize that they are thirsty and may not take enough water due to their failing health.
- People who are ill with a sore throat may not want to eat or drink enough water
- People with chronic type 2 diabetes can urinate a lot
- People on medication that makes them pass urine frequently.
One can lose 3%-4% of the body weight through dehydration without facing serious consequences but once the body has lost up to 5%-6% of water, you will start facing symptoms of mild dehydration.
Losing up to 10% of the body weight in fluid can lead to severe and fatal health complications which include;
Seizures due to electrolyte loss
A seizure is a sudden change in the electrical activity of the brain. It is an uncontrolled disturbance of the electrical activity of the brain.
It can cause changes in behavior, feelings, and movements leaving one in a state of unconsciousness. The proper functioning of the brain’s electrical activity is largely depended on the electrolyte balance of the brain (homeostasis).
These electrolytes are naturally occurring substances that ionize to produce electrical changes in the brain. These electrolytes are present/carried in body fluid and helps the body perform specific physiological functions.
Examples of these electrolytes are calcium, chloride, magnesium, phosphate, potassium, and sodium. These electrolytes are present in body fluid in a specific amount which must be maintained for the proper functioning of the body.
Dehydration (losing body fluid) increases the concentration of these electrolytes, therefore, creating an imbalance in the homeostasis of the body. These changes affect the brain’s electrical activity thus leading to brain seizures.
It’s is paramount to note that other factors other than dehydration can lead to brain seizures.
This is a dangerous condition that occurs when the body suddenly loses a lot of blood or fluids. This reduces the blood volume and the amount of blood in circulation within the body.
This condition is also referred to as low-volume shock.
The importance of blood cannot be overemphasized, it helps to control the body temperature, reduces bleeding by the formation of blood clots, and it helps to transport oxygen, nutrients, hormones, and waste to different parts of the body for use or removal.
Life they say lies in the blood- when the blood is too low, the body may not function properly and may lead to death.
The kidney is an important organ of the human body that is involved in the filtering of the blood thus removing wastes from the body and also for the formation and excretion of urine.
Dehydration can lead to the build-up of wastes and acids in the body and can also contribute to the formation of kidney stones and urinary tract infections (UTI), both of which can lead to kidney damage if not properly treated.
Kidney stones are crystals that are formed in the kidney and passed in the urine.
In the presence of adequate water, these crystals are unlikely to be formed. Water helps the body make more urine to flush out germs and harmful substances that may clog the blood vessels- thus causing kidney damages.
This is a prolonged state of confusion and unconsciousness resulting from brain damage. It is a severe health condition where the person appears to be in a state of sleep and it’s unresponsive to its surrounding.
The body happens to be in a vegetative state between life and death, the body is alive but unaware of its present environment.
This dangerous state of health can be caused by various brain injuries as well as severe dehydration.
Other health challenges posed by dehydration include;
- Heat cramps
- Heat exhaustion
- Muscle damage
Treatment of Dehydration
There is only one effective treatment for dehydration and that is to replace lost body fluids and electrolytes.
Treatment on dehydration depends on age, causes, and severity of dehydration.
These Treatments may include the direct intake of water, natural/health supplements, and fruits/vegetables high in water content.