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What is dehydration?

Dehydration happens when the body doesn't get the amount of water it needs. We get water through drinking, but we also get water in many foods that contain water. Water is used by the body for many vital bodily functions, and severe consequences may occur if there is a deficiency.

We lose water normally through sweating, crying, going to the restroom, breathing and through saliva (or spit). There are also things that occur which cause the body to lose more water than normal. Examples are: fever, diarrhea, vomiting, excess sweating and certain medications (like diuretics or "water pills").

A person may not replace enough of the water she loses if she is:

  • busy and forgets to drink enough water,

  • doesn't realize that she is thirsty, or

  • doesn't feel like drinking due to sore throat, mouth sores or even nausea/vomiting.

Symptoms of mild or moderation dehydration are:

  • dry or sticky mouth

  • thirst

  • not peeing very much or dark pee (urine)

  • muscle cramps

  • headache

  • dry, cool skin.

Symptoms of severe dehydration may include:

  • not peeing or having very dark yellow urine

  • very dry skin

  • dizziness

  • rapid heartbeat or rapid breathing

  • sleepiness, irritability or lack of energy

  • sunken eyes

Symptoms in small children or babies may be different than in adults. Those symptoms may include:

  • dry diaper for more than 3 hours

  • dry mouth and tongue

  • no tears when crying

  • sunken eyes, cheeks or the soft spot on the top of the skull

  • sleepiness, lack of energy or irritability

Anyone can become dehydrated but there are some that are more susceptible. Dehydration is serious and needs to be treated immediately. The best treatment is prevention. Babies and young children with illnesses such as diarrhea or high fever can become dehydrated easily. It is important to keep them well-hydrated because they cannot tell you when they are thirsty. Older adults are also very susceptible as they often may not feel thirsty as much or cannot get around easily on there own and will become dehydrated easier. Also, people working outside during the hot summer months are also easily dehydrated because of sweating. On hot, humid days, the sweat doesn't evaporate easily, and the body will become overheated. Please take the time to drink plenty of water and to make sure those you care about drink plenty of water, also.

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