Facebook

What You Should Know About Dehydration

By Denise Pott, LCSW
Assistance Home Care

Unless you are an athlete or work outdoors in extreme temperatures, you may not stop to consider whether you are drinking enough water. Dehydration is quite common, and can happen quickly. The average adult will lose more than 10 cups of water each day simply by going through their usual activities. If that water is not replaced, you are at risk of dehydration. In fact, by the time you notice that you feel thirsty dehydration has already begun.

The body itself is 70 percent water, which underscores its importance in our lives. It has several functions: First, water helps carry vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients throughout the body. It is a component of blood and digestive fluids, and helps to eliminate waste. The body can survive for some time without food, but for only about 72 hours without water.

Our bodies normally lose water through perspiration and elimination. Sickness with fever, diarrhea, and vomiting cause more fluids and electrolytes to be lost, and this increases dehydration. Dehydration may develop slowly, over the course of several days, but in some cases it can become severe within just a few hours.

Older adults are at higher risk for dehydration for several reasons. First, the body’s internal feedback system changes with age, and it may not recognize higher temperatures, even when it becomes dangerously hot. Bodies that are thin and have less fat reserves will dehydrate more quickly. Social factors may also contribute to dehydration; in some cases, seniors are reluctant to use their air conditioner because they want to avoid the additional expense on their electric bill. Finally, some medications can cause fluid loss, especially diuretics. Many older adults purposefully drink less water to avoid more frequent urination, but this is a big mistake. In fact, they need to drink more water and take in minerals to maintain their electrolyte balance and avoid dehydration.

Signs of mild dehydration include thirst, dry mouth, and dizziness. Headache and muscle weakness often can occur with mild or moderate fluid loss. Symptoms of more severe dehydration include infrequent urination or urine that is dark in color, lack of perspiration, sunken eyes, low blood pressure, rapid heartbeat, and fever or hyperthermia. These symptoms warrant immediate medical attention and it’s important to get help quickly and begin to rehydrate and cool the body.

Here are 3 easy tips for staying well hydrated:

  1. Increase your intake by keeping water nearby at all times. Get a large glass and set of goal of how many refills to drink daily. According to the Mayo Clinic, the adequate intake of water for men is about 13 cups or 3 liters. For women, the daily adequate intake is about 9 cups or 2.2 liters of water.
  2. Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and sugary beverages, which can contribute to dehydration.
  3. Have water with every meal, and drink a full glass of water with medications.

At Assistance Home Care, we take steps to prevent dehydration by encouraging fluid intake for all of our clients.

If you are concerned about a loved one, please visit our website or give us a call to find out how we can help.
Ellisville: 636-200-2909 Webster Groves: 314-631-1989 St. Charles: 636-724-4357
www.assistanceathome.com

Join Our Newsletter