Many of us have experienced the symptoms of mild or moderate dehydration – thirst, sluggishness, headache and dry mouth. In fact, a majority of American adults, up to 75 percent, are chronically dehydrated.
Fortunately, mild and moderate dehydration, in most cases, can be reversed by drinking additional fluids and replenishing electrolytes. But because these conditions are such common occurrences, we’ve been lead to believe that dehydration isn’t dangerous. It’s an uncomfortable condition, we think, but it isn’t much worse than that.
That couldn’t be farther from the truth. As moderate dehydration progresses to severe dehydration, it becomes very serious. Severe dehydration is a medical emergency that requires hospitalization, and if left untreated, it can cause brain swelling, seizures, and even death.
When Is Dehydration Serious
Mild and moderate dehydration are fairly common. For instance, if you feel thirst, you’re likely experiencing mild dehydration, and an intense workout may contribute to some level of dehydration. Fortunately, both mild and moderate dehydration can be treated at home. An oral rehydration drink like DripDrop is recommended to treat these conditions by the American Medical Association, the American Association of Pediatrics and the Centers for Disease Control.
Severe dehydration – or a loss in body water greater than 10 percent – is very serious. This condition is commonly caused when the speed at which the body uses water is accelerated. For instance, prolonged cases of diarrhea and/or vomiting speed up the loss of body water to the point that it becomes difficult to replenish fluids and electrolytes normally. In these cases, the resulting dehydration requires medical attention. Symptoms of severe dehydration include:
• Decreased or no urination, or very dark yellow urine
• Dry mouth, dry skin, no tears
• Low blood pressure, dizziness
• Confusion, irritability
• Increased heartrate
• Rapid, deep breathing
• Sunken eyes
• Lethargy, excessive tiredness
• Unconsciousness or delirium
Seek medical attention immediately if these symptoms are present.Plus, make sure that the person suffering from these symptoms is in a cool, shaded place, and offer an oral rehydration drink like DripDrop to begin the rehydration process.
Risk Factors for Severe Dehydration
Young children and elderly adults are at the greatest risk for developing severe dehydration. For these groups, common conditions can contribute to severe dehydration. Diarrhea is one of the most common contributing factors:
• Nearly 200,000 children under the age of 3 are hospitalized every year as a result of diarrhea and dehydration. For the elderly, fluid and electrolyte disturbances from acute gastroenteritis result in about 300,000 hospitalizations per year.
Diarrhea drains the body of essential fluids and electrolytes, and the resulting dehydration is a major cause of death worldwide. For instance, patients suffering from cholera and Ebola are most likely to develop and succumb to severe dehydration. Additionally, vomiting, excessive sweating, chronic illnesses, taking 5 or more prescription drugs, burns, and the inability to drink water (i.e. due to stroke) are all contributing risk factors for severe dehydration.
It’s a myth that dehydration isn’t dangerous. Severe dehydration, although less common than mild and moderate dehydration, can be life-threating, and at-risk populations, like young children, the elderly and those battling chronic illness, are especially prone to develop