Dehydration occurs when the amount of water leaving the body is greater than the amount being taken in. The body is very dynamic and always changing. This is especially true with water in the body.

Dehydration can be defined as "the excessive loss of water from the body." Dehydration isn't as serious a problem for teens as it can be for babies or young children. Dehydration becomes the major problem in an otherwise self-limited illness. Dehydration occurs when you lose more fluid than you take in and your body doesn't have enough water and other fluids to carry out its normal functions.

Causes

You may suffer from dehydration symptoms for a variety of reasons. Your body loses large amounts of water when you exercise, and so it is important to take frequent breaks to have a drink before continuing your workout. You will also need to increase your daily water intake if you are going to be outside for an extended period of time when the temperature is high. But even when it is cold outside, you still run the risk of dehydration if you do not take the time to drink water throughout your day. No matter what the weather, it is helpful to plan ahead and bring extra bottles of water with you when you go out for you and anyone else in your group.

Symptoms

An increase in thirst is one of the first symptoms of dehydration. When the body doesn't receive the amount of water it is losing, dehydration increases causing a decrease in urine production and perspiration. Water that is stored in cells begins to move into the bloodstream, and unless a sufficient amount of water is consumed, tissues, especially brain cells, lose moisture and breakdown. When this occurs, the person experiences severe confusion, which could lead to coma.

The most common signs and symptoms of dehydration include persistent fatigue, lethargy, muscle weakness or cramps, headaches, dizziness, nausea, forgetfulness, confusion, deep rapid breathing, or an increased heart rate. Dehydration is a very serious condition, more than most people realize. Since seniors often have a reduced sense of thirst, dehydration is one of the most frequent causes of hospitalization after age 65.

Treatment

Drinking fluids is usually sufficient for mild dehydration. It is better to have frequent, small amounts of fluid (using a teaspoon or syringe for an infant or child) rather than trying to force large amounts of fluid at one time. Drinking too much fluid at once can bring on more vomiting.

*Aim at drinking at least ½ your weight in ounces per day. If you weigh 150 pounds, aim for 75 ounces of water daily.

*Increase water intake but do so gradually. If you are drinking 2 glasses of water per day, increasing it to 6 will just lead to increased urination. Increase ½ glass per day until you reach your target.

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