Dehydration deprives your body of the water it needs to function. Though your body warns you by making you feel thirsty, sometimes you don't drink enough or you may be sweating and losing fluids rapidly. That's when moderate to severe dehydration develops and you’re at risk of health complications.
Once you're dehydrated, it's essential to rehydrate as quickly as possible. Sometimes that requires more than simply drinking fluids. When you need intense hydration, and especially if you need electrolytes, Behnam Khaleghi, MD, at the Pacific Rheumatology Medical Center can help with IV hydration therapy.
Why you get dehydrated
Many people get dehydrated when they don't consume enough fluids or they lose more fluids than normal. You lose a significant amount of fluids from excessive sweating during athletic activities or being outside on a hot day.
Vomiting, diarrhea, and frequent urination also quickly dehydrate your body. Additionally, chronic health conditions like diabetes and inflammatory bowel disease often lead to dehydration.
Impact of dehydration on your body
Your body depends on water for every important process that keeps you alive and healthy, from maintaining body temperature, metabolism, and cellular function, to eliminating wastes.
As a result, dehydration has a negative impact on every body system. Here are a few examples:
The total water in your body affects your blood pressure and blood volume. When you're dehydrated, your blood volume falls below normal and your heart works harder to pump blood to your body.
Muscle strength and performance
Being dehydrated reduces muscle tone and increases your risk of having cramps. You only need to be mildly to moderately dehydrated to experience muscle fatigue and diminished endurance.
Mild dehydration affects your ability to concentrate; moderate dehydration can interfere with your short-term memory.
All the surfaces in your joints need fluids to ensure smooth movement. Synovial fluid can't lubricate your joints properly without enough water. The cartilage protecting your bones contains a lot of water. So, dehydration makes cartilage stiffen and causes joint pain, magnifying your symptoms if you have arthritis.
Urinary tract problems
If you don't rehydrate well enough or you have repeated bouts of dehydration, you’re more likely to develop kidney stones and urinary tract infections.
Signs of dehydration
Thirst is the earliest sign of dehydration, but it's important to remember that by the time you feel thirsty, you're already dehydrated. Your thirst keeps getting worse in sync with increasing fluid loss.
After thirst, the five most common signs of dehydration include:
- Dry skin and lips
- Dark urine or urinating less
As you progress from moderately to severely dehydrated, a range of serious problems develop. You may start feeling disoriented or confused and levels of vital electrolytes go down.
Electrolytes are minerals that keep your muscles and nerves working. Without electrolytes like potassium and sodium, you can experience involuntary muscle contractions and cramps, an irregular or rapid heartbeat, or a drop in blood pressure and oxygen. If your heart gets too weak, it can’t pump enough blood and you go into shock.
Severe dehydration also causes heatstroke. At this stage, your body's internal temperature reaches a critical and unsafe level. Your skin feels hot, yet you stop sweating. You may faint or have seizures.
Preventing and correcting dehydration
To prevent dehydration, you need to drink plenty of fluids. However, the exact amount you need varies based on your age, activity level, and overall health. If dehydration develops due to sweating, vomiting, or diarrhea, you also need to replace electrolytes.
By the time you have signs of dehydration, you may not be able to drink enough to fully replenish your fluids. IV hydration therapy takes care of that by sending fluids directly into your bloodstream. With IV hydration, we can also be sure you get a precise amount of electrolytes.
If you have questions about dehydration or the amount of fluids you need, call Pacific Rheumatology Medical Center or book an appointment online today.