Dehydration 101

Jun 24, 2015

By Barret Procyshyn

Summer is here! Dauphins Fair and Dauphins Countryfest are here. The Gilbert Fair & Rodeo are on deck; and the Canadian Forces Snowbirds are coming to Winnipegosis for their Centennial Celebrations. Temperatures are on the rise and the Parkland is outdoors. Whether you are out on the water, out on the trails, or out in the community; life is great in the summer time. While most of us remember the hat, shades, sunscreen and bug spray bringing your water bottle is just as important.

Dehydration is often something we forget about, but while it can be quite dangerous, it can be easily prevented. Dehydration will occur at a point when your body loses too much fluid. While not drinking enough fluids seems like the most logical reason for dehydration, you can also lose large amounts of fluid through diarrhea, vomiting, sweating, or exercise. The potential for dehydration always increases if you are exposed to high temperatures.

Not drinking enough fluids can cause muscle cramps with the feeling of faintness. Usually your body is able to respond by reabsorbing fluid from your blood and other body tissues. However; by the time you become severely dehydrated, you no longer have enough fluid in your body to get blood to your organs, and you may go into shock, a potentially life-threatening condition.

Dehydration can occur in anyone of any age, but it is most dangerous for babies, small children, and older adults. Parents of little ones have to exercise extra caution because childrens bodies are made up of a higher portion of water and they have a higher metabolic rate; therefore they use more water faster. Finally, do you know how a child has to use the washroom more often than an adult? Well this means their kidneys do not conserve water as well as an adults; so it is flushed through the body at a higher rate. Frequent illness more often leads to vomiting and diarrhea.

As you age from an adult into your golden years; the increased risk for dehydration returns for a variety of reasons. Thirst sensations dissipate, medication use may increase urine output and kidney function deteriorates. Some who suffer from incontinence or find it hard to have the mobility to use the washroom may make a point of drinking less.

Anytime a younger child of older adult is ill and if suffering from fever, vomiting, or diarrhea we must watch for the classic signs of dehydration:

-Feeling of fatigue (tiredness), crankiness or dizziness

-Drier than usual eyes or mouth

-Less urine output than normal

While it is most important to prevent dehydration, some things you can do to treat mild to moderate dehydration. In anyone aged 12 and up immediately stop activity and rest out of direct sunlight. Drink a Gatorade, moderately sweetened juice, water or rehydration drink to replace fluids. About 2 litres of fluid should be consumed in a 2-4 hour period. Be sure to avoid strenuous activity for at least 24 hours.

In babies it is imperative to nurse or bottle feed more often, as much as every 10 minute. If your baby has started eating cereal, you may replace lost fluids with cereal. Kids can suck on flavoured ice pops or Pedialyte ice pops which are available at the pharmacy, are a great option. Fruit juice and soda pop should be avoided as they contain too much sugar and lack the proper amounts of electrolytes being lost. If your child still is not getting enough fluids, you can try an oral rehydration solution, which is available in a variety of flavours.

When more serious dehydration develops a physician should be seen. Decreased alertness, altered consciousness and even severe dizziness or lack of urination warrant medical attention.

Prevention of dehydration is really the key. Drink plenty of water before, while, and after you are active. If you are Countryfesting pick up a couple cases of G2, Gatorade and water. They are all cheaper than beer. Drink plenty of water before, during, and after exercise. Try to make it a habit to drink extra fluids. Take a container of water or sports drink with you when you exercise, and try to drink at least every 15 to 20 minutes. If you are taking your kids to the fair encourage your child to drink extra fluids or suck on flavoured ice pops or freezies. Avoid high-protein diets. If you are on a high-protein diet, make sure that you drink at least 8 to 12 glasses of water each day. Try to limit alcohol intake. If you plan on consuming alcohol try mixing it with non-caffeinated beverages and fluids right before bed. Stop working outdoors, exercising or take it easy if you feel dizzy, light-headed, or very tired. Always remember prompt home treatment for diarrhea, vomiting, or fever will help prevent dehydration.


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