With the Cabo summer heat, Dehydration can be a serious heat-related disease, as well as being a dangerous side-effect of diarrhea, vomiting and fever. Children and persons over the age of 60 are particularly susceptible to dehydration.
Under normal conditions, we all lose body water daily through sweat, tears, urine and stool. In a healthy person, this water is replaced by drinking fluids and eating foods that contain water. When a person becomes so sick with fever, diarrhea, or vomiting or if an individual is overexposed to the sun, dehydration occurs. This is caused when the body loses water content and essential body salts such as sodium, potassium, calcium bicarbonate and phosphate.
The following are the most common symptoms of dehydration, although each individual may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:
- less-frequent urination
- dry skin
- dry mouth and mucous membranes
- increased heart rate and breathing
In children, additional symptoms may include:
- dry mouth and tongue
- no tears when crying
- no wet diapers for more than 3 hours
- sunken abdomen, eyes or cheeks
- high fever
- skin that does not flatten when pinched and released
If caught early, dehydration can often be treated at home under a physician’s guidance. In children, directions for giving food and fluids will differ according to the cause of the dehydration, so it is important to consult your pediatrician.
In cases of mild dehydration, simple rehydration is recommended by drinking fluids. Many sports drinks on the market effectively restore body fluids, electrolytes, and salt balance.
For moderate dehydration, intravenous fluids may be required, although if caught early enough, simple rehydration may be effective. Cases of serious dehydration should be treated as a medical emergency, and hospitalization, along with intravenous fluids, is necessary. Immediate action should be taken.
Take precautionary measures to avoid the harmful effects of dehydration, including:
- Drink plenty of fluids, especially when working or playing in the sun.
- Make sure you are taking in more fluid than you are losing.
- Try to schedule physical outdoor activities for the cooler parts of the day.
- Drink appropriate sports drinks to help maintain electrolyte balance.
- For infants and young children, solutions like Pedialyte will help maintain electrolyte balance during illness or heat exposure. Do not try to make fluid and salt solutions at home for children.