Understanding Dehydration: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment


Dehydration is a condition where there is loss of significant amount of water in the body, as well as essential body salts where the blood, gastrointestinal tract, and kidneys are often involved. It is a common condition among children, athletes, employees, and anyone who are not fond of drinking water. Dehydration can affect both sexes, all ages, but is most dangerous in newborns and Infants.

Signs and Symptoms

You will know that your child or a loved one is suffering from dehydration if the following signs are noticeable:

  • Dry mouth
  • Sunken eyes
  • Decreased or absent urination
  • Wrinkled skin
  • Low blood pressure
  • Confusion and coma
  • Severely sunken fontanel (soft spot in scalp) In an infant

Causes and Rick Factors

Common causes of dehydration include constant vomiting or diarrhea resulting from any cause, heavy sweating, consumption of drugs that drain the body’s fluids and electrolytes, (i.e., diuretics, water pills, etc.) and overexposure to heat.

Dehydration is dangerous during infancy and when patient had or is having recent Illness involving high fever, diabetes mellitus, or chronic kidney disease.

Health Care and Treatment

When dealing with a child experiencing dehydration, appropriate health care includes:

  • Physician’s monitoring of general condition and medications
  • Self-care after diagnosis
  • If the condition is severe or prolonged, hospitalization is advised for Intravenous fluids
  • Medical tests may include medical history, physical exam, laboratory blood studies such as blood count and electrolyte count

As for treatment and prevention of future recurrence, the following should be observed:

  • Accurately weigh your child daily using a scale and take note of the weight so you will be informed of fluid loss. Report to your doctor a weight loss of more than 3 pounds in 1 day or 5 pounds in 1 week.
  • If your child is vomiting or has diarrhea, take note of the number of occurrence, so you will be able to estimate fluid loss. Additionally, give small amounts of liquid with non-prescription electrolyte supplements-or drinks such as Gatorade-every 30 to 60 minutes.
  • For less severe dehydration, let the child consume small amounts of fluids frequently. Large amounts can cause vomiting.
  • As for medication, the doctor may only prescribe intravenous fluids that will serve as replacement for lost water. Alternatively, make sure that your child gets to drink complete glasses of water every day.
  • Your child should observe bed rest until symptoms are relieved. Reading and watching TV are acceptable activities.
  • Consumption of salty foods is an excellent way to reduce the effect of dehydration, but make sure to give your child moderate amount only.
  • When appetite has returned and alertness, strength, and feeling of well-being have been restored, the child can go back to school.