Dehydration possible causes

Dehydration, lack of water in the body, can be the consequence of several ailments. Dr. Jacques Amselem, a general practitioner, details the most common causes.

Dehydration symptoms

Water is essential for life, so it is no surprise that it is very present in the human body. Precisely, it represents 60% of the body mass of each individual. The National Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health Safety (Anses) recalls that we consume around 150 liters of tap water per day per person.

On a daily basis, it is recommended to drink around 1.5 liters of water per person per day. Obviously, this amount must be adapted according to temperatures, activities, age, etc. “During a heatwave, it is recommended to drink mineralized water to compensate for the loss of minerals through perspiration and dehydration linked to high temperatures, in particular water containing bicarbonate, sodium chloride, potassium, and magnesium salts. », Details ANSES.

Dehydration refers to a lack of water and mineral salts in the body, which are essential for the proper functioning of the body. Infants, the elderly, and people with chronic illnesses are at greater risk for dehydration.

Depending on the age of the patient, the symptoms of dehydration are not the same. In adults and older children, it is manifested by thirst, dry lips, loss of less than 5% of body weight, and severe fatigue. When severe, it is accompanied by intense thirst, dry skin, fever, weak urine, headache, behavior change, dizziness, etc.

For the little ones, it is advisable to consult a doctor if the infant sleeps a lot if he is abnormally listless if he behaves atypically if he is breathing quickly if he is pale with ringed eyes if he is he is losing weight. Another sign to know, dehydration can be manifested by a depression of the fontanelles located on the upper part of the skull, the latter mark when you press the hollow of the finger.

Beware of digestive disorders

“Specifically, dehydration occurs when water loss is excessive and cannot be compensated by intake. Clearly, the body lacks water ", explains Dr. Jacques Amselem, a general practitioner in Seine-et-Marne.

Before adding: “Most often, dehydration occurs when you don't get enough water for several days. During this period, water evaporates through the skin, when you sweat and the amount of water supplied to your body is not sufficient to compensate for this excessive elimination ".

In addition, it can also be the result of diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome, malabsorption syndrome, gastroenteritis, and vomiting. Dehydration can also occur with a severe and prolonged episode of fever, especially in the elderly or in children.

Some chronic diseases involved

In some cases, dehydration can be the result of taking certain medications. "Whether it is diuretics that increase urine production or laxatives in the case of constipation that increases the amount of stool," explains Dr. Jack Amsilem.

Likewise, some treatments, for example, those aimed at combating high blood pressure, can alter the body's water metabolism and cause kidney failure or dehydration. Again, it is recommended to drink more to compensate for fluid loss. Alcohol can also have a drying effect, as excessive alcohol has a diuretic effect.

In addition, several diseases can increase the risk of dehydration. This is, for example, the case of unbalanced diabetes. Diabetics have a lot of sugar in their blood. As a result, they urinate a lot, causing a loss of salts and water. Usually, they drink a lot to make up for it. "Balanced control of diabetes is imperative," the doctor explains. On the contrary, if you are not diabetic, but feel a lot thirsty, do not hesitate to consult your doctor to have your blood sugar checked.

Rules and stress?

It is very common to hear that your period is also responsible for dehydration. Reality or preconceived idea? "During menstruation, estrogen and progesterone can affect hydration by changing the volume of urine," says Dr. Jack Amsilem. "It is, therefore, advisable to drink more than usual during these few days."

What about stressful situations? When we are feeling stressed, it is common to have a dry mouth. A sign of dehydration? "During times of stress, it is common to want to urinate or have more stools than usual, which may lead to dehydration. Stress affects the hormone that regulates water in the body," says the doctor. Therefore, under stress, it is recommended to drink more than usual to compensate for the losses. A good solution to also get rid of the annoying feeling of dry mouth.

How to react?

Dehydration may not be treated the same in infants and adults. In an adult, it is recommended to lay a person on the floor, undress, cool him with a damp cloth, and give him air. “Compensate for salt and water loss: Give it to drink more often and more often than usual, especially drinks that contain enough sugar and salt (sweetened water, salted vegetable broth),” details.

In the case of infant dehydration, management is somewhat different. "The consequences for a young child can be dangerous, so you need to watch them carefully and quickly to compensate for the loss of water and mineral salts. To do this, they must be given oral rehydration solutions," Dr. Jack Amsilem recommends. Note: These prescription solutions are covered by health insurance.

A dehydrated child should not only drink water or sugary drinks, which will not be effective in loosening the secretions. In gastroenteritis, the number of stools and vomit should be counted, and the temperature measured frequently and weighed to monitor weight loss. If symptoms get worse or not improve, it is recommended that you see a doctor very quickly. In severe cases or when treatment and monitoring are not possible on site, hospitalization for intravenous dehydration may be indicated.

Is it possible to prevent dehydration?

Obviously, it is better to anticipate potential dehydration than to have to cure it. To avoid this situation, it is recommended that you drink more when the weather is hot or during vigorous exertion. Some water-rich foods should also be preferred: tomatoes, star fruit, watermelon, cucumbers, zucchini, celery, strawberries, lemons, melons, etc.

In addition, in dangerous situations (vomiting, fever, diarrhea, etc.), it is possible to diagnose dehydration before clinical signs appear by performing a blood test with complete blood count, iconography, and kidney function.

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