Dehydration is a condition which can cause a great level of discomfort and in some extreme cases, it can also become a very serious condition leading to unconsciousness, and even death. With the correct guidance and education from our Physiotherapists in Toronto, preventative techniques can be employed to avoid the detrimental effects of dehydration.
What is dehydration?
Dehydration results from a lack of fluids in the body due to a greater amount of fluids exiting the body than entering it. The outcome of this can vary in severity, and more commonly than not, if the condition is not dealt with immediately, it can progress very quickly and ultimately become life threatening.
Without a sufficient amount of fluids in the bloodstream, the heart and cardiovascular system has extra stress placed on its level of functionality as the blood starts to thicken. This results in the less important organs, such as the skin, receiving a reduced blood flow as more is pushed towards the active organs and muscles. However, a decrease in blood to the skin also reduces the sweating response, consequently raising the body’s internal temperature.
A lack of fluids resulting in dehydration can be caused by one or more of the following:
- Illness – illness, especially when combined with vomiting and/or diarrhea, can cause the level of fluids exiting the body to be greater than the amount of fluids entering it. Some may also find it difficult to keep fluids down too, adding to the already depleted level of hydration.
- Heat – hot climates causes the body’s cooling mechanism, sweating, to work harder to try regulate internal temperatures to normal levels. With more breathing and sweating, there is an increased amount of fluids leaving the body.
- Minimal resources – when there are no fluids available to compensate for the amount of fluids leaving the body, dehydration will occur.
Symptoms of dehydration:
- Reaction times and judgement is affected
- Aerobic capacity is affected
- Increased heart rate
Treatment for dehydration:
Dehydration treatment relies solely on the ability to recuperate lost fluids and increasing salts and electrolytes in the body as quickly as possible.
Treatment can be in the form of one, or a combination of the following:
- A sports drink containing electrolytes
- Immersion in cold water or wrapped in cold clothing/towels
- Oral re hydration solutions which contain certain amounts of salts and electrolytes
- In an emergency, fluids, salts and electrolytes are best administered intravenously into the patient
However, it is good to note that the most effective treatment can depend on if the patient was at rest or participating in exercise, their age and how far the condition has currently progressed.
The best way to treat dehydration is by using preventative measures to avoid the occurrence of the condition at all.
Listed below are simple preventative measures anyone can employ to prevent the detrimental effects of dehydration.
- Drink water frequently – feeling thirsty is not the best marker for when your body need to drink more water.
- Drink more water and sports drinks containing electrolytes if participating in exercise, particularly in the heat. Sports drinks that are isotonic are advised as they are able to move the electrolytes into the bloodstream faster, subsequently increasing water absorption at a rate quicker than drinking plain water alone.
- A good indicator of hydration is by observing the colour and smell of your urine, a clear odourless urination is the sign of good hydration, whereas a strong, yellow urination is a sign of dehydration.
- Weigh yourself before and after exercising. It is most likely that any weight loss will be water loss. Recovery should include 1/2 a litre for every lb lost during this time.