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What are the signs of dehydration?


Your body becomes dehydrated when you lose more fluids than you take in. The most common ways in which this occurs are from vomiting, diarrhea, excessive sweating, and fever. Fluids that will aid in re-hydration can include anything from water to chicken broth or juice. However, not all fluids will help to restore your body’s hydration. Because they are diuretics (aid in expelling fluids from the body), caffinated and alcoholic beverages can actually exacerbate dehydration.

Most healthy adults can easily re-hydrate simply by drinking a few glasses of water. On the other hand, if dehydration becomes severe, it may be necessary to seek medical help, as severe dehydration can lead to a number of serious medical conditions including coma and death.

To avoid the unpleasant symptoms of dehydration, it is important to drink fluids often and not just when you feel thirsty. Thirst is actually an indicator that you have already become somewhat dehydrated. This is particularly true for those at risk, such as endurance athletes, children, older adults and people with chronic illnesses. These groups are less likely to drink often enough because they have lost the impetus to do so as they’ve gotten older, simply cannot obtain fluids on their own or expel fluids too quickly. If you or a loved one fall into one of these categories, being aware of the signs of dehydration can be essential.

Mild to moderate dehydration can produce the following symptoms:

  • Thirst

  • Dry mouth

  • Unusual sleepiness or fatigue

  • Decreased urination

  • Headaches

  • Dizziness

  • Weakness

Signs of severe dehydration may include:

  • Intense thirst

  • Lack of sweat

  • Almost no urination with urine a dark yellow or amber color

  • Shriveled skin or skin that may seem to stick together when pinched

  • Irritability, confusion and extreme sleepiness

  • Low blood pressure

  • Fever

  • Incoherence or unconsciousness

For information contact Dr. Clevis Parker at EJGH Internal Medicine at 504-456-512, or go to www.ejgh.org.

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