Sufficient amount of water is very important to maintain health and vitality. Throughout the day the body loses water, and the threat of dehydration lurks if the amount of water lost is not returned. Dehydration can be caused by exercise, illness, or because you're not drinking enough water. Understanding the signs of dehydration and knowing how to respond to them is essential to good health and recovery from dehydration. You can usually treat mild to moderate cases of dehydration yourself. However, if you are severely dehydrated, seek immediate medical attention.
Part 1 of 5: Assessing the Situation
Step 1. Identify the groups of people most at risk for dehydration
Very young children, the elderly, people with chronic diseases have a high risk of developing dehydration. However, other groups are also not necessarily free from high risk.
- The amount of water in the body of children more than adults, and the metabolism of children is also higher than adults. Children often suffer from vomiting and diarrhea as part of childhood illness. They may not be able to understand or communicate when they need water.
- Older people may not experience the sensation of thirst on a regular basis, nor can their bodies store water. Some older people may have health conditions, such as Alzheimer's disease, that make it difficult for them to convey what they need to nurses.
- People with chronic illnesses, such as diabetes, heart failure, or kidney disease, are more likely to be dehydrated. Certain medications also contribute to dehydration, for example, diuretic medications.
- Acute illnesses such as influenza can also increase your risk of becoming dehydrated, while fever and sore throat make you less likely to want to drink.
- People who exercise vigorously, especially endurance athletes, are at a higher risk of dehydration because they lose more water than they can drink. However, dehydration is also cumulative, so you can become dehydrated after a few days even if you only do light exercise that is not accompanied by adequate water consumption.
- Another group that is also susceptible to dehydration are those who are often exposed to heat for a long time. For example, construction workers and people who work outdoors all day are at an increased risk of becoming dehydrated, especially if the climate is accompanied by humidity. Sweat does not evaporate well in a hot and humid environment, so the body has difficulty cooling itself.
- People living at high altitudes (above 2500 m) have a higher risk of dehydration. The body may choose to increase urine output and breathe rapidly to maintain a steady supply of oxygen, both of which contribute to dehydration.
Step 2. Recognize signs of mild or moderate dehydration
You can usually treat mild to moderate dehydration at home, with the remedies suggested in this article. Common signs of mild to moderate dehydration include:
- Dark yellow or amber colored urine
- Rarely urinate
- Reduced sweat
- Increased thirst
- Dry mouth, nose and eyes
- Skin feels dry and tight, maybe wrinkles/unusual wrinkles
- Dizziness, feeling like fainting
- Weak, shaking
Step 3. Recognize the signs of severe dehydration
It is not recommended that you treat severe dehydration at home with medication. In cases of severe dehydration, the patient may need intravenous fluids to recover. Seek immediate medical help if your symptoms include:
- Urinating little or not at all
- Urine color is very dark
- Dizziness or lightheadedness that interferes with your ability to stand or move significantly
- Feeling weak or shaking
- Low blood pressure
- Fast heartbeat
- Lethargy or confusion
- Shock (eg, pale/moist skin, chest pain, diarrhea)
Step 4. Recognize the symptoms of mild to moderate dehydration in children
Children may not be able to convey all the symptoms they are feeling. You can recognize several signs to help determine if your child is dehydrated.
- Less tears. If your child is crying but not shedding tears (or not as much as usual), he or she is dehydrated.
- Capillary refill time. This simple test is often used by pediatricians to test whether a child is dehydrated. Press the child's nails until the nail bed turns white. Ask the child to place his hand over the heart. Notice how quickly the nail bed turns pink again. If it takes more than 2 seconds, the child may be dehydrated.
- Rapid, short, or disturbed breathing. If your child is not breathing normally, it could be a sign that he is dehydrated.
Step 5. Recognize the signs of severe dehydration in infants and children
Severe dehydration in children should be treated immediately by a medical professional. Call your pediatrician or emergency medical services if your child has any of the following symptoms:
- Sunken eyes or crown. The fontanel is a "soft area" on a very young baby's head. If the crown looks sunken, the baby may be dehydrated.
- Skin turgor (skin elasticity). Skin turgor is basically the ability of the skin to “return to its normal position” after being stretched. For example, children who are dehydrated will experience a decrease in skin turgor. If you pull a small fold of skin on the back of your child's hand or stomach and the skin doesn't return to its original state, your child is dehydrated.
- Not urinating in 8 hours or more
- Extreme lethargy or loss of consciousness
Step 6. Check the condition of the urine
If you are adequately hydrated, your urine should be pale yellow, transparent. If the body gets too much or too little water, the color of the urine will change.
- If your urine is very clear or almost colorless, you may be overhydration (excess fluid in the body). Overhydration can lead to dangerously low sodium levels. Sodium is a natural electrolyte that the body needs in order to function.
- If your urine is dark yellow or amber in color, you may be mildly dehydrated and should drink water.
- If your urine is orange or brown, it means you are severely dehydrated and need immediate medical attention.
Part 2 of 5: Handling Babies and Children
Step 1. Use an oral rehydration solution
This treatment method is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics or the American Association of Pediatricians to treat mild to moderate dehydration. Try to restore fluid levels in the child's body within 3-4 hours.
- Use an over-the-counter electrolyte solution such as Pedialyte. This solution contains sugar and electrolyte salts to help prevent low blood sugar. You can actually make your own electrolyte solution, but to prevent possible errors, it's usually safer to use a commercial solution.
- Give 1-2 teaspoons (5-10 ml) of the solution every few minutes. You can use a spoon or an oral syringe (without a needle). Start slowly; too much fluid at once can cause nausea or vomiting. If the child vomits, wait 30 minutes before starting again.
Step 2. Avoid other types of fluids
If your child is dehydrated, you must restore the electrolyte balance in their bloodstream. Soda and juices can cause hyponatremia, or low blood sodium levels, in children. Water also does not contain enough electrolytes to restore the child's body condition because the electrolyte turnover in children is faster than adults.
- Soda may contain caffeine, which is a diuretic and can make your child even more dehydrated.
- Juice may contain too much sugar and can worsen dehydration in children. This also applies to sports drinks like Gatorade.
- Other liquids to avoid include milk, clear broths, teas, ginger drinks, and Jello.
Step 3. Breastfeed the infant
If your baby is still breastfeeding, try to persuade him to feed. This will help restore electrolyte and fluid levels and will also help prevent further fluid loss from diarrhea.
- You can use oral rehydration fluids between feedings if your baby is very dehydrated.
- Do not give formula milk during the rehydration period.
Step 4. Keep your child hydrated
Once the fluid in the child's body has recovered and returned to its original level, you must ensure that the child continues to get enough fluids over the next 24 hours. The American Association of Family Physicians recommends the following formula:
- Infants should receive 29 ml of oral rehydration fluid per hour.
- Toddlers (aged 1-3 years) should receive 59 ml of oral rehydration fluid per hour.
- Older children (over 3 years) should get 89 ml of oral rehydration fluid per hour.
Step 5. Check the condition of the child's urine
To make sure the recovery efforts are working properly, check the color of your child's urine. Just like adult urine, a healthy child should produce clear, pale yellow urine.
- Urine that is very clear or colorless can be a sign of overhydration. Cut back on fluids a little to make sure you don't upset your child's sodium balance.
- If your urine is amber or darker in color, continue this rehydration process.
Part 3 of 5: Handling Adults
Step 1. Drink water and clear liquids in small amounts
Water is usually sufficient to replace fluids lost in adults. Other options include clear broth, ice pops, Jello, and sports drinks that contain electrolytes. Drink slowly; drinking too much too quickly can make you vomit.
- Try the ice cubes. Ice dissolves slowly and its cooling effect can help people who are overheated.
- If dehydration is caused by prolonged physical activity, drink sports drinks that contain electrolytes.
Step 2. Avoid certain types of liquids
When you are dehydrated, avoid caffeine and alcohol. Both have a dehydrating effect on the body. Drinks such as coffee, caffeinated tea, and soda should not be consumed when the body is dehydrated. You should also avoid fruit juices, as sugar can have a dehydrating effect by increasing the frequency of urination.
Step 3. Eat foods with a high water content
If you don't feel nauseous, try eating some fruits and vegetables with a high water content.
- Watermelons, orange melons, grapefruits, oranges, and strawberries have very high water content.
- Broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, celery, cucumber, eggplant, lettuce, sweet peppers, radishes, spinach, zucchini, and tomatoes also have very high water content.
- Avoid dairy if dehydration is accompanied by diarrhea or nausea. Dairy products can make dehydration symptoms worse.
Step 4. Continue efforts to restore body fluids
Continue the rehydration process and rest for the next 24 hours. Drink lots of fluids. Don't stop drinking even if you don't feel thirsty anymore. It can take several days for the lost fluid to completely return.
Step 5. Seek medical help if your condition does not improve
If you don't feel better after rehydrating, or if you have a fever over 40 degrees Celsius, seek immediate medical attention.
Part 4 of 5: Dealing with Heat-Related Dehydration
Step 1. Stop the activity
If you are dehydrated, draining your energy further will only make you weaker. Stop your activity.
Step 2. Go to a cool place
This will help promote heat loss from sweat and prevent heat exhaustion or heat stroke.
Step 3. Lie down
This trick will prevent you from expending more energy and help prevent loss of consciousness.
If possible, elevate the foot position. This can help keep you from fainting
Step 4. Cool down your body
If dehydration is a side effect of heat exposure, take off your clothes to cool off. You can also use a damp towel and facial spray to help cool down.
- Do not use ice water or ice packs. Both can cause blood vessels to constrict and will actually increase heat retention.
- Use a spray bottle to lightly spray the warm water onto the skin. Evaporation will help cool the body.
- Place a damp cloth on thinner-skinned areas of the body such as the neck and inner wrists, collarbones, upper arms and armpits, and inner thighs.
Step 5. Encourage the child to rest
If the child is mildly dehydrated due to fatigue, for example after vigorous exercise, encourage the child to rest in a cool place and out of the sun until he gets replacement for the lost fluids.
- Let the child drink as much water as desired during this period.
- For older children, sports drinks that contain sugar and salt (electrolytes) can be a good choice to replace lost body fluids.
Step 6. Replace lost body fluids
Use the steps in Method 3 to replace lost body fluids. Drink at least 2 liters of fluids within 2-4 hours.
- Try drinking sports drinks that contain electrolytes or rehydration fluids to help restore electrolyte balance. Mix 1 liter of water with teaspoon of table salt and 6 teaspoons of sugar to make an inexpensive rehydration solution at home.
- Avoid salt tablets. This kind of salt can cause excess salt in the body and can lead to serious complications.
Part 5 of 5: Preventing Dehydration
Step 1. Prevent dehydration by drinking water frequently
You should drink enough water even if you don't feel thirsty. You may become dehydrated before you feel thirsty.
- The amount of water adults need varies, but in general men should drink at least 3 liters of water per day while women should drink at least 2.2 liters of water per day.
- A rule of thumb that you can apply is to drink about 15-30 ml of water for every 0.5 kg of body weight. That way, a person weighing 90 kg should drink between 3-6 liters of water per day, depending on their level of exercise and activity.
- If you do moderate exercise, drink 1.5-2, 5 more glasses of water. If you want to exercise for more than an hour, get additional fluid replacement by consuming sports drinks that contain electrolytes. Aim to drink 0.5-1 glasses of water every 15-20 minutes during exercise.
- Avoid consuming too much fruit juice. The sugar in juice can cause problems with blood sugar levels and can increase urination, which can contribute to dehydration.
Step 2. Watch your salt level
Strenuous exercise such as that which athletes are accustomed to can cause salt loss. The average person can lose 500 mg of sodium through sweat after an hour of exercise, whereas an athlete can lose up to 3000 mg of sodium.
Try to weigh yourself before and after exercise. Also count the amount of water you drink during exercise. For example, if the scale shows you lost 0.5 kg but you also consumed about 0.5 liters of water, that means you have actually lost 1 kg. If you lose more than 1 kg, eat some salty snacks such as cheese sticks or salted nuts to replace the lost sodium
Step 3. Carry water with you wherever you go
If you are going outside, such as to a game or sporting activity, bring extra water. If you're going to be doing strenuous exercise, consider bringing a sports drink that contains electrolytes as well as a refillable bottle of water.
Step 4. Wear clothes that allow your skin to breathe
If you are regularly out in the sun or do strenuous exercise, wear clothing that allows your skin to breathe. This can help the body regulate its heat. Bring a face spray or a fan to help keep your body cool. That way, the body avoids losing fluids through sweat.
Do not exercise when the weather is hot, avoid it as much as possible. A high heat index, i.e. when the air temperature is hot with high humidity, can have a negative effect on the body
Step 5. Eat foods that can replace lost body fluids
Fresh fruit and vegetables are often good sources of fluids. The average person gets about 19% of their daily water intake from food.
Remember to drink more water after eating dry or salty foods, as these can cause fluid loss
- Bring a refillable water bottle if you go to a sporting event, zoo, or other outdoor area. Make sure the water supply to replace lost body fluids is maintained.
- Avoid alcohol if you are prone to dehydration and remember to drink alcohol in moderation. Alcohol has a dehydrating effect.
- If there is no water source nearby, try to stay in the shade and use the fastest means of transportation to get water.
- Soda, coffee or drinks containing sugar or artificial sweeteners don't do much to treat dehydration, they may even make it worse.
- Never drink too much water. Drinking too much can cause excess fluid in the body. If your clothes feel tight after drinking a lot of water, see a doctor.
- If you have pets, keep in mind that dehydration can also affect the animal. Provide clean water at all times. If pets often play outdoors, provide a bowl of water outside and inside. Bring water for your pet and for yourself when you are exercising or traveling.
- Be aware that infants and young children are more susceptible to dehydration than adults. Never punish a child by not giving him a drink. The child may fall ill or die.
- If you don't feel better after rehydrating, or if you experience symptoms of severe dehydration, seek emergency medical attention immediately.
- Do not consume river water, lakes, ditches, streams, creeks, mountain water or sea water that has not been filtered or processed. You could get an infection or parasite.