Although many people believe the risk of dehydration and exhaustion is greatest in the summer, dehydration can actually be a problem all year round. Dehydration can occur at any time of year and is often worse in the winter because people rarely think to watch for it outside the summer months. Because dehydration and exhaustion can happen at any time, you need to know the signs.
Mild Dehydration & Exhaustion
The first sign of the onset of dehydration is usually thirst. If you find yourself suddenly thirsty, be sure to drink something that will actually quench your thirst like water. Other symptoms of mild dehydration and exhaustion include: loss of appetite, dry skin, flushed skin, dark colored urine, dry mouth, fatigue, chills and light-headedness. These symptoms can be cured relatively easily by drinking a lot of fluids and taking a long period of rest. Unless symptoms progress or worsen there is rarely any need to call a doctor in cases of mild dehydration and exhaustion.
When Dehydration Worsens
If an individual with dehydration and exhaustion continues to work instead of replenishing fluids and resting, dehydration and exhaustion may worsen. Symptoms of increased dehydration and exhaustion include: increased heart rate, increased respiration, decreased sweating, decreased urination, increased body temperature, extreme fatigue, muscle cramps, nausea, headaches and tingling in the limbs. If dehydration and exhaustion are permitted to reach this level, you may want to call a doctor, although rest and increased fluids will probably be the prescription of the day.
When to Call Emergency Help
If left untreated, dehydration and exhaustion can reach levels where emergency care is needed. If you or someone you know is exhibiting any of the following symptoms, emergency care should be sought immediately: muscle spasms, vomiting, racing pulse, shriveled skin, dim vision, painful urination, confusion, difficulty breathing, seizures, chest and abdominal pain, and in very severe cases, unconsciousness. If these symptoms occur and dehydration and exhaustion is not treated, more serious symptoms may arise, and in some cases, may even result in death.
Preventing Dehydration and Exhaustion
To prevent dehydration and exhaustion, be sure to drink plenty of fluids throughout the day. The average person loses somewhere between a half gallon and a gallon of fluid a day between sweating, urination and breathing. This fluid needs to be replenished at the very least. Most doctors recommend an individual drink somewhere between 8 to 10 glasses of water a day to keep the body hydrated. In cases of extreme exertion, like mowing the lawn or working out, more fluid is needed.
Treating Dehydration and Exhaustion
The treatment for dehydration and exhaustion is logical. A person suffering from dehydration and exhaustion should be given plenty of fluids and rest. Many doctors recommend that individuals suffering from mild dehydration and exhaustion relax and drink plenty of water starting in small sips to avoid additional illness. Gatorade and other, electrolyte enhanced drinks, may also be recommended but again in small sips to prevent further illness. In cases of extreme dehydration where emergency help is called, doctors may inject sugar water into the individual through an IV to rehydrate the body more quickly.