People may not think about it very much but dehydration can be a serious problem. Experts note that by the time a person recognizes that they are thirsty, they are already becoming dehydrated. If you are working out, spending time in the sun or heat or have become sick with a stomach ailment, getting enough fluids is very important. If it gets bad enough, you can seek medical help from your primary carte doctor, a walk in clinic or the emergency room. Nearly 70% of all urgent care centers do offer intravenous (IV) treatment for dehydration so if you are feeling like you need medical help at night or on the weekend, this might be a better option than going for care at the hospital emergency room.
The first thing you need to do is be able to recognize what dehydration looks like. It may be accompanied by different symptoms when children or adults are affected.
Adult signs of dehydration:
- Severe thirst.
- Reduced need to pee.
- Urine that is dark and concentrated.
Symptoms of dehydration in young children or infants:
- Crying without producing tears.
- No need to change the diapers for at least three hours.
- Sunken cheeks and eyes.
- Dry tongue and mouth.
- If someone has had diarrhea for more than a day, is disoriented, dizzy or irritable, cannot keep any liquids down, you should seek out help at a walk in clinic or from your primary care doctor. Anytime there is blood in the vomit or stool, you should head to the emergency room. This can be caused by bleeding in the digestive tract and is a medical emergency.
What causes this problem?
Sometimes people become dehydrated for very basic reasons. They get too busy or distracted to get enough fluids in. People often underestimate how much water they may need when they are hiking or doing other things outside. It is really crucial to bring enough water when you are hiking in a dry climate. No one wants to disrupt their camping vacation by having to go to a walk in clinic for something that could have been prevented.
There are times when dehydration cannot be prevented. Most people have suffered through a stomach virus or had an episode of food poisoning. These experiences are very unpleasant. When they include a lot of vomiting and diarrhea, the body may have a hard time replacing the liquid that it is losing. If you cannot keep anything down, you are going to have a hard time keeping up with the fluid loss. Having a fever can also result in dehydration. Uncontrolled diabetes, which often is accompanied by increased urine output, can cause dehydration. All of this can be treated at a walk in clinic.
What are the real dangers of dehydration?
There can be some serious complications from dehydration, which is why it is important to get to a walk in clinic or to your doctor’s office if you have serious dehydration symptoms. The complications include:
- Hypovolemic shock: This is caused by a reduction in your blood volume. Your blood is made up of a lot of water (as if your whole body). This is also called low blood volume shock and is one of the most serious complications from dehydration. It can be life threatening. When your blood volume gets too low, you may experience a drop in blood pressure, which lowers the level of oxygen in the blood and body.
- Kidney and urinary problems: If you suffer from dehydration often, it can lead to serious complications with your urinary tract and kidneys. It can lead to a urinary tract infection, the development of kidney stones and even kidney failure.
- Seizures: When you lose a lot of liquid, you probably are also losing electrolytes. These are crucial to the proper functioning of your nervous system. Potassium and sodium are needed to get the right electrical signals between the cells. When you lose a lot of these, the result can be a seizure.
- Heat stroke: If you are out exercising and do not enough fluids in, you will lose both water and electrolytes. The problems that can ensue range from heat cramps, heat exhaustion and in extreme cases, heatstroke. This can also be a life threatening condition.
Dehydration can be a serious problem but it is easily treatable if you know the symptoms.