Dehydration is one of the most serious things that can happen during summer weather. If we don’t do what it takes to avoid this condition, it can lead to very serious health problems and even death. Keep reading today’s article by guest blogger, Sara, to understand the signs and symptoms of dehydration, and how to treat it.
The body requires a large amount of water to function normally. Every process, from circulation to digestion, utilizes water extensively. When the levels of water begin to drop in the body, all kinds of functions begin to fail. If action is not taken quickly enough, the condition can become urgent enough to cause death.
There are a number of ways that we can reach this critically low level of water in the body. Many stomach viruses and diarrheal ailments can cause the body to cast off excessive amounts of water, creating a hydration deficit that can become very serious. This is especially true in young children, who do not have the water reserves that adults typically have, and in the elderly, whose body systems may already be fragile.
In hot summer weather, it is very easy to become dehydrated. Increased activity levels along with hot, humid conditions can move water out of the body faster than it can be replenished. It’s during this phase that the urgent care San Francisco residents can get will steer them toward some simple treatment steps.
Before we progress too far into treatment, though, let’s back up and look at the big picture of dehydration, beginning with the most important step in any medical situation: Prevention.
Prevention Is Key
Most people who are in a situation where dehydration is likely are well aware of the risk. They are expecting to do strenuous activity of some kind, and the weather conditions are likely to exacerbate the dehydration process.
This is the time to take steps for prevention. If you expect to be working or playing in hot weather for a significant length of time, plan ahead. Dress appropriately, not stylishly. Keep plenty of good drinks around, and that does not include soda or beer.
Water and sports drinks are best because they go directly to the cause of dehydration. Beer and soda have a mild diuretic effect, causing the drinker to urinate more frequently and cast off much-needed water. Sports drinks provide water as well as important electrolytes, so water or one of these products is best.
Take frequent drink breaks in the shade, or better yet, indoors. Pace yourself and don’t try to do too much.
The early stages of dehydration aren’t always obvious. The person may become a little lethargic, or even just move more slowly. It can be very difficult to tell if it’s dehydration or just the normal fatigue that comes from an active day in the hot sun.
Don’t take chances. If you see these signs in others or in yourself, intervene. Call a break for everybody, and be particularly sure that the affected person is hitting the drink cooler. Cool the body gently with water from a hose or swimming pool, but be careful to avoid use of ice or very rapid cooling measures.
Then monitor the person carefully. Keep offering drinks and insist on consumption. If the person begins to come around after a nice, well-hydrated break, it may be enough just to keep an eye on him or her for the rest of the day. If progress isn’t obvious, it’s time to go a step further.
Getting Definitive Care
If at any point the person loses consciousness, hallucinates, or appears to be disoriented, it’s time to step up the pace. Flushed, red skin and an absence of sweat are signs that the person is in real trouble.
Begin care as noted above, by administering as much to drink as possible and removing the person from the hot environment immediately. Get him or her into an air-conditioned vehicle or building immediately, and make access to 911 as soon as possible after seeing the severe symptoms emerge.
Heat exhaustion and heatstroke are real emergencies. Without immediate care, there can be permanent injury to body systems and even death. Do your best to prevent heat-related medical problems, and be prepared to act when they occur.
About the Author
Sara is a freelance writer who most often writes about business and health. In her spare time, she enjoys maintaining a healthy lifestyle through swimming and practicing yoga.
Do you have any tips for hydration to add to Sara’s article? My tip is coconut water – it’s even more hydrating than water! Check out Nuts About Coconut Water for more fun facts about this little known hydration tip.