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It’s summertime and it’s Texas, so dehydration is a real threat to all of us. Whether you’re in the car commuting to work, at home staying busy, or out running errands, you need to watch out for signs of dehydration.

What’s the big deal?

You’re busy, I know, but if left untreated, dehydration can cause a host of serious complications including:

  • Seizures
  • Brain damage
  • Blood clots
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Death

Repeatedly being under-hydrated causes stress to all of the body’s systems since they are designed to slow down or to stop functioning to divert resources to the kidneys when there’s not enough water to go around.

When you’re dehydrated, your body can show various kinds of distress that you might not instantly recognize as relating to low fluids. Here are seven warning signs that go beyond the obvious thirst and fatigue that tell you to get some water immediately:

Headache

A headache is often one of the first noticeable signs, since it is hard to ignore. If you feel a headache coming on, drink a glass or two of water and see if it helps.

Dark Urine

If your urine output is dark yellow or orange, you need more water right away. A good way to remember is to get in the habit of drinking water after a bathroom break, to replace the fluids that were lost.

Irritability and Confusion

If you feel your emotions spinning out of control, or you’re having trouble understanding the tv or radio, it’s time to head for the faucet.

Rapid Heartbeat

A racing heart that doesn’t slow after you sat down, but continues to pound in your throat is a good indication that your body is in distress. Pay attention to it and grab a water bottle. If your heartbeat continues to race after a couple minutes, seek medical attention immediately.

Rapid Breathing

Even if you’ve been working hard and long, panting is not normal. It should subside after a few minutes of resting, but if you’ve been breathing fast for a while, you need some fluids, fast. If coupled with a rapid heartbeat, drink water and seek medical attention immediately.

Dizziness and Lightheadedness

Along with blood pounding in your ears, rapid heartbeat and headache, you can feel quite dizzy when you’re dehydrated. If you feel like you could pass out, get someone to bring you water and help you while you find a safe place to sit down and cool off.

Fever and Chills

Although one of the more difficult symptoms to notice when you’re already hot and sweaty, if you are much more flushed and hot than people around you, and you realize you have a fever, your body is showing distress by not being able to regulate its own temperature. You need water right away and medical attention.

What should I do?

If you’re experiencing one or more of these symptoms, stop what you’re doing and drink room temperature or cool water in steady, slow amounts. Don’t drink alcohol, coffee, energy drinks or sodas which all act as diuretics. You need water and electrolyte replacements from sports drinks.

If someone near you is showing these signs of distress, help him or her drink water. If the person loses consciousness or is showing rapid heartbeat, rapid breathing and dry skin, get the person to the hospital. At Doctors Hospital at White Rock Lake, our Emergency Department is ready to assist in cases of extreme dehydration. Call 911 for emergencies.

Prevention

To prevent dehydration, make it a habit to drink 8-10 cups of water per day, or more if doing strenuous activities or experiencing extreme heat. Pay attention to the color of your urine. If it is light, it is a good indicator that you are getting enough water. If you won’t drink water, try putting sliced or frozen fruit in it, or a dash of lemon juice, or make unsweetened tea in different flavors. Take the time to stay well-hydrated this summer and your body will thank you.

Photo credit: iStock/Thinkstock

 

Doctors Hospital at White Rock Lake

9400 Poppy Drive
Dallas, TX 75218

214-324-6100
www.doctorshospitaldallas.com

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