Dehydration occurs when your body lacks as much water as it requires. Lack of enough water in the body makes it hard for the body to function properly. Depending on how much water is missing from your body, dehydration can be severe, moderate, or mild.
1. Mild Dehydration
The first stage of dehydration, referred to as “early” or “less severe”, begins during mild and moderate exercise and other types of activity, where some perspiration occurs. The body gradually loses approximately a liter of fluid for every hour spent perspiring.
2. Moderate Dehydration
Dehydration at this stage is known as “moderate”. The body begins to break down muscle tissue, removing cells and fluids from the muscles. Sweating and the release of water into the bloodstream is reduced, and dehydration tends to be more pronounced.
3. Severe or Advanced Dehydration
At this stage, fluid loss has become so severe that your body becomes completely dried out. The body begins to break down and deplete vital organs, including the heart. Severe dehydration can be life threatening.
The body loses water on a daily basis through natural processes such as defecation, peeing, breathing, and sweating, and through saliva (spitting) and tears. Normally, the liquid lost in your body is replaced by eating food containing water and drinking fluids.
Losing too much water or failing to eat or drink enough will most likely get you dehydrated.
The following conditions are responsible for significant loss of fluids in the body:
- Excessive peeing; usually caused by diabetes and some medications such as diuretics
- Sweating a lot
Dehydration can occur in any age group; especially when you are exercising intensively in hot weather without drinking enough water. Sometimes, thirst cannot be relied on to determine a person’s need for water.
For most people; especially older adults, they start feeling thirsty when they are already dehydrated. As such, it is always prudent to drink more water during hot weather or when you are sick whether you are feeling thirsty or not.
Depending on age, the following symptoms could be an indicator of dehydration:
Infants or young children
- Dry tongue and mouth
- Lack of tears when crying
- Sunken eyes and cheeks
- Irritability or restlessness
- Dry diapers for three hours
- Sunken spot on top of skull
- Extreme thirst
- Urinating less frequently
- Dark-colored urine
Symptoms for severe dehydration
- More than 24 hours of diarrhea
- Skin that is very dry
- Rapid breathing
- Rapid heartbeat
- Feeling dizzy
- Excess fatigue and irritability
Severe dehydration should be treated as a medical emergency, and you should contact your doctor to get the necessary treatment immediately.
In order to prevent dehydration, you should drink plenty of water and eat foods rich in water like vegetables and fruits. For most healthy people, thirst is an adequate daily guideline for staying hydrated.
In case your child has diarrhea or is vomiting, you should begin to consider giving an oral rehydration solution or extra water at the first signs of illness, rather than waiting for dehydration to occur.
The Importance of Maintaining Your Hydration
It is also best to start hydrating before indulging in heavy exercise routines. A good indicator of being hydrated is producing sufficient amounts of clear, dilute urine. You should also take water during the exercise as well as when you finish.