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DEHYDRATION - CAUSES, SYMPTOMS AND TREATMENT 24 September 2018

 

Dehydration occurs when there is not enough water and solutes (electrolytes) in your body. By allowing dehydration to occur, your body slows down and can result in sickness1. To avoid dehydration, you need a balance of both electrolytes and water which will also allow your body to function at peak efficiency.

What leads to dehydration

Not drinking enough water each day can lead to dehydration. Your body needs a certain amount of fluids to function properly, so a lack of water can cause health problems.

Sweating causes dehydration and was explored in our last blog. As a recap, the following situations can lead to sweating:

  • Warm working conditions
  • Physical Activity
  • Stress
  • Air travel

Sickness also causes dehydration as you are losing fluids from your body. This is especially relevant when you are experiencing diarrhoea or vomiting.

Excessive urination results in fluid loss from the body. Certain medications, drinking too much alcohol, anxiety or health problems can lead to excessive urination.

Signs and Symptoms of Dehydration

Here are a few signs of dehydration to look out for2:

  • Being thirsty
  • Dry mouth/lips
  • Headaches
  • Drowsiness/confusion
  • Dark urine (or little/no urine)
  • Breathing quickly with a fast heart rate

80% of Australians suffer the effects of dehydration but most of them aren’t aware of the key symptoms3. It’s important to look out for these signs of dehydration and take action when you notice them.  

Consequences of dehydration
If you let dehydration occur, then you may encounter the following issues:

  • Heatstroke
  • Kidney failure
  • Seizures (due to loss of electrolytes)
  • Low blood volume
  • Coma 

How to overcome dehydration

To overcome dehydration, you need to replenish your body with water and electrolytes. There are many sources available today to help you achieve this. NBI’s BIOLyte oral rehydration solution covers this quite well. BIOLyte, when mixed with water, helps to restore lost electrolytes. It also contains added prebiotic and zinc to provide a faster recovery from both diarrhoea and vomiting.

Drinking other fluids is something that you may have thought of. Sports drinks have been around for quite a while now and replenishes lost electrolytes. Fruit juices might seem healthy but have their own health risks. Soft drinks are also an option but are not recommended. The concern with sports drinks, fruit juices and soft drinks are that they are acidic beverages that have high amounts of sugar. They may help you with rehydration but they can also cause health issues. There are also certain fluids which can make your dehydration worse, such as alcohol and caffeine.

Water is the option that most people are aware of. It’s important to be drinking the recommended amount of water daily (2-3L a day for adults)4. Some types of foods, such as fruits, also contain water and can contribute to your daily fluid intake. Just be wary of drinking too much water as it can lead to hyponatremia (water intoxication) which will hurt your body.

Staying hydrated

Fluids are important as they carry nutrients to your cells and allows bacteria to leave the body5. Quite simply, by staying hydrated, you are letting your body function properly. Watch out for the signs of dehydration and drink lots of fluid throughout the day to keep yourself hydrated.

  1. Solo-Josephson, P. 2017, Dehydration, <https://kidshealth.org/en/teens/dehydration.html>
  2. Health Direct 2018, Dehydration, <https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/dehydration>
  3. Sunshine Coast Daily 2016, 80% of Australians suffer effects of dehydration, Maroochydore QLD, <https://www.sunshinecoastdaily.com.au/news/80-australians-suffers-effects-dehydration/2934133/>
  4. State Government of Victoria 2014, Water – a vital nutrient, Better Health Channel, Melbourne VIC, <https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/water-a-vital-nutrient>
  5. Harvard Health Publishing 2015, The importance of staying hydrated, Harvard University, <https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/the-importance-of-staying-hydrated>