Dehydration occurs when the body loses too much water. Illnesses affecting the gastrointestinal tract can lead to dehydration, and sometimes fluid loss can be so great that the dehydration becomes life-threatening.
In order to function properly, our bodies need a minimum of approximately four eight-ounce glasses of fluid from one day to the next. These requirements are not the same for everyone and can vary depending on level of activeness and age. Someone with a high level of activity may require two to three times that amount. If we consume less than the daily suggested amount of fluid, it will result in dehydration.
Causes of Dehydration
An abnormal amount of fluid loss through the intestinal tract will occur when the intestine is irritated, damaged, or when bacteria or viruses in the intestinal walls cause such an increase in fluid production that it cannot all be absorbed. Abnormal connections between sections of the intestinal tract can also contribute to fluid loss.
A reduction in liquid consumption may be caused by nausea or loss of appetite, and it might be heightened by vomiting. Various medicines can deplete fluids as well. People who have undergone an ileostomy also may be more prone to dehydration.
One obvious sign of dehydration is rapid weight loss of several pounds over a span of a few days, or even hours in severe cases. A drop of more than ten percent of the person's total body weight is an indication of severe dehydration. Other signs include:
Severe dehydration may alter the body's chemistry, cause kidney failure, and even become deadly.
Replenishing fluids is usually enough to treat mild dehydration, but it should be done in small doses. Trying to force a lot of fluid into your body in a short period of time may stimulate more vomiting.
Electrolyte solutions or freezer pops, which can be found at pharmacies, are extremely effective. Although they may seem like the perfect choice, sports drinks (e.g., Gatorade and PowerAde) are high in sugar content, which can trigger diarrhea or make it worse. Moderate to severe dehydration may call for an IV and hospitalization. There, a physician will attempt to diagnose and treat the cause of dehydration.
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