Coping with Dehydration!!

The months of May and June bring with them scorching heat and with it food poisoning usually manifesting as diarrhoea and vomiting.’Heat stroke’ is the term used for condition resulting from prolonged exposure to high temperatures, usually in combination with dehydration — which leads to failure of the body’s temperature control system. The medical definition of heat stroke is a core body temperature greater than 105 degrees Fahrenheit.

The major symptom occuring first of all is ‘collapse’ or fainting as is commonly called.

Other symptoms may include:          

  • Throbbing headache
  • Dizziness 
  • Lack of sweating despite the heat
  • Dry skin
  • Muscle weakness 
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Rapid but shallow breathing
  • Seizures and Unconsciousness may occur in severe cases.   

Dehydration or hypohydration refers to excessive loss of body fluids along with disturbance in metabolic processes of the body. The volume of body fluids lost vary depending upon the cause, and accordingly dehydration is classified as – mild, moderate or severe. Symptoms and signs also vary accordingly. 

Symptoms of mild dehydration include- 

  • Thirst with very dry mouth and tongue
  • decreased urine volume,
  •  mild stinging sensation when urinating (may or may not be present)
  •  abnormally dark urine, 
  •  Headache
  •  Dizziness 

Moderate to severe dehydration cases present with oliguria( decreased urine output) or at times anuria ( no urine output). Other symptoms include lethargy, seizures and fainting spells.

PREVENTION

  • Drinking sufficient water and maintaining adequate body fluid volume is the only way to avoid dehydration especially in summers. Aim to drink atleast 6-8 glasses of water.Taking frequent sips of water, herb teas, or dilute fruit juices help hydrate the body.
  • Monitor the frequency and character of urine. Urge to urinate occuring every 3-5 hrs during summers is normal. Normal urine is straw to light yellow coloured or colourless and odourless or with mild odour. A deeply coloured urine occuring less frequently indicates developing dehydration. 
  •  Avoid tea and coffee as well as aerated and alcoholic drinks- These are diuretics and dehydrate the body.
  • Steer clear of deep fried and fatty foods, sticking to bland diets.

MANAGEMENT     

  • Oral Rehydration Solution (ORS) – 1 pkt in 1L of water is to be taken slowly in cases of dehydration. 
  • Solutions such as salted rice water, salted yogurt drinks, vegetable and chicken soups with salt can be taken. 
  • A small child should continue to be breastfed. 
  • Zinc and potassium supplements should be added if possible.
  • Supplemental vitamin A is recommended for malnourished patients. 
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