Dehydration in Adults: Identifying the Causes and Symptoms

Dehydration is a common condition among adults and can have multiple causes including fever, vomiting, and other clinical conditions.

Some adults may be at higher risk of dehydration, including the elderly and pregnant women. Mild to moderate dehydration is defined as a significant loss of fluid, which usually totals a loss of 2-6% body fluid. Because the adult human body is made up of approximately 60% water, staying hydrated is crucial to many of our daily functions.

Severe dehydration can leave adults at risk for seizures, hypernatremia, heat-exhaustion, and other potentially life-threatening conditions.

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How to Detect Dehydration in Adults?

Having a general understanding of dehydration and how it occurs is key to both management and prevention. Dehydration in adults usually manifests itself in one of a few ways:

Signs and Symptoms That You’re Dehydrated

  • Dry mouth
  • Irritability
  • Sweating
  • Muscle cramps
  • Light-headedness
  • Minimal urine output
  • Sunken eyes or dark-colored eyes (prominent in young children)
  • Tired/lethargic/sleepy
  • Dizziness
  • Chapped lips or dry skin
  • Dark or yellow colored urine

Spotting some of the above symptoms of dehydration early and often can help you manage mild to moderate dehydration before it becomes severe. The average adult should be consuming about 11-15 cups of fluids per day, and it’s important to note that water is not the only source of fluid for the body. In addition to raising your water intake, eating more hydrating foods will ensure you stay hydrated.

What Causes Mild to Moderate Dehydration in Adults?

Some causes of dehydration are more common that others. People often become dehydrated due to illness, chronic conditions, physical activity, or environmental conditions. Any physical activity that gets your heart rate pumping and causes you to sweat can ultimately leave you feeling dehydrated.

Chronic Conditions that Dehydrate You

  • Diabetes
  • Low blood pressure
  • Kidney stones (caused by excessive dehydration)
  • Hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating)
  • Hypernatremia
  • Vomiting and diarrhea

Other Causes of Dehydration

  • Fever
  • Alcohol
  • Heatstroke
  • Sugary drinks
  • Fried foods
  • Heat-exposure
  • Diuretics (tea, coffee, etc.)

How to Treat Dehydration in Adults at Home?

Hydration is all about always maintaining enough fluid in the body. To prevent fluid loss or to reverse the effects of mild dehydration there are some steps you can take, right in your own home.

One of the best ways to stay hydrated is by regulating your fluid intake. Ensuring you’re getting enough water (8 glasses per day) and fluids will keep the body at the right hydration balance. In the event that you begin to experience dehydration symptoms, you may need more than just water to achieve optimal rehydration.

Electrolyte drinks are a great way to replenish any fluid loss along with the electrolytes we lose due to sweat, urination, vomiting, or diarrhea. Choosing the right formula is key because many popular sports drinks that boast a high electrolyte concentration are also loaded with sugars and may not actually contain the right balance of electrolytes to rehydrate you quickly.

These high sugar drinks can leave you feeling more dehydrated once your body begins using your water inventory in order to process the excess sugar.

What to Drink for Dehydration in Adults?

An oral rehydration solution that contains the proper balance of electrolytes is your best option when looking to manage dehydration. Hydralyte’s ready-to-drink formula is an example of an effective drink for treating the symptoms of dehydration. Hydralyte tastes great and contains 75% less sugar than leading sports drinks.

Other products to manage dehydration include:

  • Effervescent Tablets – These tablets are packed with the necessary electrolytes needed to restore your body’s natural fluid balance. They dissolve easily in water and taste great.
  • Electrolyte Powder – Similar to the effervescent tablets, this hydration powders mixes in well with water. It’s a great pre- and post- workout hydration solution for adults looking to hydrate without lots of added sugar.
  • Freezer Pops – Freezer pops are a fun way to stay hydrated and they are perfect for hot weather. These frozen treats will help you manage heat-related dehydration.

To prevent and relieve adult dehydration, adults should consume an oral rehydration solution (Hydralyte) when they are at risk of dehydration. Hydralyte is scientifically formulated to contain the correct balance of glucose and electrolytes for rapid rehydration. The formulation is based on the World Health Organization criteria for effective rehydration.

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When to Worry about Dehydration in Adults?

If you think you may be experiencing the symptoms of severe dehydration, consult your physician immediately. Untreated dehydration symptoms can lead to a medical emergency and have lasting effects on your health. Another dangerous symptom associated with dehydration is fever. If your body temperature is over 101 F you should be seeking medical attention.

If you’re having trouble urinating this could also be a critical sign of dehydration. If a 24hr period goes by without urinating please consult a doctor, as this could lead to a serious condition. Lastly, excessive vomiting and diarrhea that last more than 72 hours could be a cause for concern and a valid reason to seek medical treatment.

General Tips to Avoid and Manage Dehydration

  • Stay well hydrated during summer months – Staying hydrated during hot weather is the best way to prevent dehydration. Be on the lookout for those early signs.
  • Use a low sugar rehydration solution – Rehydration solutions are available over the counter or online and they’re the best way to ensure you get the right balance of fluids and electrolytes.
  • Avoid high sugar fruit juices – These high sugar juices cause your body to lose more water, as it tries to breakdown the excess sugar in the drinks. opt for a low sugar alternative and avoid the unnecessary water loss.

Did You Know?

One of the common symptoms of moderate dehydration is a headache. If you are experiencing a headache, consider whether dehydration could be the cause.

Rehydration Solutions for Adults

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