April 29, 2010

Side Effects of Dehydration

Posted in Category : General Health

The human body loses some amount of water through sweat, urine, stools, and tears everyday. However, when there is an excessive loss of water, a person suffers from a condition called dehydration. This condition is sometimes a heat-related disease and can be life-threatening if not tackled immediately. When the body loses water, it also loses nutrients like sodium, calcium bicarbonate, phosphate, and potassium. This disease could therefore have serious repercussions on the sufferer’s health. The water lost by the body can be replaced by drinking water or consuming fruits and vegetables that are high in water content.

When suffering from dehydration, a person urinates lesser than normal, suffers from excessive thirst, dizziness and fatigue, headache, disorientation, dry skin, dry mouth and mucus membranes, increase in heart rate, weak pulse, and breathlessness. It also results in many severe health problems like low blood pressure, convulsions, kidney stones, cramps in the stomach, legs and arms, and even heart failure. The human brain contains approximately 85 % water and even a small loss of water in the brain could lead to severe consequences like dysfunction of the muscles. Some more side effects of dehydration are reduction in cellular and extracellular fluids and extraction of water from the bloodstream. If suffering from chronic dehydration, the person can also suffer from edema as the body instinctively tries to store water. This condition of water retention causes many other disorders like weight gain as the body requires extra resources to manage the extra water stored.

Preventive Methods

To prevent all these problems, it is very important to keep dehydration at bay. For that, a person should drink at least 10 glasses of fluids everyday and increase the amount during summers when the body loses more water. One must also drink water every 20 minutes if exercising, and consume sports drink if working out for more than one hour. It is also important avoid exercising in synthetic or rubber clothes. Consumption of aerated drinks, caffeine, and alcohol must be restricted as they are diuretic and dehydrate the body. If possible, a high protein diet must also be avoided. Wearing light cotton clothes makes one sweat less thereby preventing dehydration. Dehydration could be treated by consuming bananas, which have high water content and are rich in potassium. They help in restoring water and the lost potassium due to the loss of water. Other watery fruits like cucumber, watermelon, strawberries, and cantaloupe should also be consumed. Rice, potato, pretzels, and gelatins are also effective in treating dehydration.