In this article
What is dehydration?
Dehydration, either acute or chronic, affects everyone at some point in their lives. Water balance regulation in the human body is a finely tuned mechanism coxwained by the brain, hormones, and kidneys, and pressure sensors within the heart and major blood vessels. Many studies are looking at how this affects brain function and energy levels as well as exactly how much water the human body requires.
According to dehydration ICD 10, the definition is excessive water loss without an imbalance in electrolytes, such as sodium. In people who fail to replenish water lost from the body through the methodical intake of food and drink, lack of water is inevitable. The body begets its own water in Picayune amounts through dehydration synthesis.
What is dehydration synthesis? This is the production of H20 as a by-product of chemical molecular reactions within the body and is incapable of preventing it from drying out. This article looks at the causes of low H20 and its backlash on both body and brain.
The body’s response to dehydration
Water and electrolyte, particularly sodium, balance is upheld through a nexus of hormone-manufacturing and hormone-responsive organs. These work in consonance to prevent dehydration. However, these mechanisms work less efficiently in the elderly, in youngsters, in the unwell, and in those who do not drink enough. These complicated mechanisms help to achieve water homeostasis in the cells, in the spaces between the cells or the interstitial space, and in the blood vessels. They involve ADH (antidiuretic hormone or vasopressin), aldosterone (which regulates sodium), and pressure sensors or baroreceptors located in the heart, major arteries and veins, and kidneys.
Causes of dehydration
An array of environmental and physiological factors can influence dehydration. These range from warm, sunny weather and air conditioning, to low liquid consumption, fever and sub-febrile states, sweating, diarrhea and vomiting. Hormonal and metabolic disorders can also cause a dehydrated state as will renal and neurological pathologies. While environmental factors and fluid intake can usually be treated within a surprisingly short time, diseases and disorders often take longer to respond to treatment, meaning more extensive and damaging periods of dehydration.
Dehydration Symptoms and Signs
Warning signs in cases of dehydration usually begin with the sensation of thirst. This is the brain’s way of informing us to drink. A sense of thirst is nearly always paired with dry mucous membranes in the oral cavity. The most common symptoms of dehydration in adults are:
- Less urination
- Darker urine
- Strong smelling urine
- Dry skin and turgor
- Dehydration headache
- Dizziness and fainting.
Children are more prone to this state as they have a larger skin surface-area-to-volume ratio compared to adults. And in the initial years of life, more prone to illnesses which involve regurgitation and diarrhea. Severe symptoms of dehydration in babies include crying without tears, dry mouth and tongue, the absence of wet diapers and drowsiness or lethargy.
Effects of dehydration
Long- or short-term desiccation affects every organ, as water is essential for optimal function. Chronic dehydration symptoms can end in immutable damage to every anatomical and physiological system. Significant lack of moisture affects the parity of electrolytes, particularly sodium and potassium, which leads to compromised cell signaling. Moisture loss caused by excessive sweating as in high-intensity physical exercise will cause rapid tiredness and lessen endurance.
These symptoms can continue even after rehydration has taken place. Reduced blood muscle flow also brings less oxygen to the muscles and aggrandizes the strain upon the cardiovascular apparatus.
H20 is necessitous for metabolism, cellular transport and homeostasis, circulatory function and reconciling internal temperature. The upshot of parchedness begins at a cellular level and can end at organ or systemic failure if left untreated. Even then, up to 70% of adults worldwide imbibe less than the recommended total water intake (TWI) of just under 2 liters per day. Naturally, this outlay hinges on each individual’s physical activity, diet, the climate, their immediate environment, diaphoresis, washrooms habits, state of health, age and countless other factors.
The long-term results of incommensurate fluids, together with persisting high amounts of the hormone arginine vasopressin in the blood, have been linked to cardiovascular disease, cancer, imbalanced glucose metabolism, diabetes and metabolic syndrome, and end-stage renal disease. This broad range of unamusing side-effects is more clearly surveyed in comparing a constant lack of moisture to a simple food dehydrator.
A herb or fruit dehydrator, for example, unhurriedly ousts the water from living matter over a long period. Those who revel in dehydrator recipes are familiar with the ponderous, desiccating effect of these machines. They extract moisture from the tissues of carrots, tarragon, mangoes, beef for jerky, sausages and pot roasts down to a cellular level.
The best dehydrator machines wring out the liquid through the exertion of dry, hot air, not too dissimilar to the average person laying on a sandy beach in a zephyr wind without a parasol, sombrero, or UV protection. The combination of sunrays and breeze opens dermal pores and bolsters perspiration. The hot airflow evaporates this sudor. A parched man, woman or child, like dehydrated food, not only gets damaged skin-deep but cell-deep.
Effects of dehydration in the brain
The famous ‘dehydration headache’ and sandpaper throat are usually the premier signs of dehydration within the brain. The former is cajoled by shrinkage, yanking each lobe slightly away from the meninges which cushion the bony cranium. Thirst, on the other hand, is a behavioral reaction whipped up by the central nervous system to encourage water intake. A parched nervous system cannot operate at its best. Physical changes take place which subsequently alters movement, cognition, and anatomo-physiological function. In both mild and severe dehydration the brain physically loses mass. Upon rehydration, its shape is immediately replenished. During the time in which the dehydrated cerebrum and cerebellum remain shrunken, neural signaling to other organs and tissues also dwindles. The tangible signs are therefore not only behavioral:
- Slower reaction times
- Brain fog
- Dehydration headache
The ageing process starts a vicious circle scenario in low hydration states. Through the simultaneous ageing of the water balance regulation systems of the brain and kidneys, compensatory mechanisms no longer function as they should. Reduced cognitive function can also mean less response to feelings of thirst as is often the case in Alzheimer’s sufferers. A lack of fluid in combination with various age-related pathologies and cognitive decline can be fatal in the elderly population.
The average person requires approximately two liters of water per day as fluids are continuously excreted. The respiratory system produces up to half a liter of vapor upon expiration; this is also called perspiratio insensibilis. Obviously, the more sportive that person or the more quickly they breathe, and even if that breathing happens with the mouth open or closed, will make a difference to this measurement. Sweat loss upon exercise can total up to 1500 ml per hour; elite athletes will lose more than a yoga enthusiast. We also lose an average of one liter and a half of water through the urine.
Fluids should be reinstated at regular intervals through the consumption of sugar-free drinks such as pure water and herbal teas. What is often forgotten is the liquid content of food; fresh fruits and vegetables can contain up to 98 percent water. A steak up to 75 percent. To prevent dehydration further, attention must be paid to weather conditions; drying winds, hot sun or high humidity levels cause the skin to dry out. In these circumstances water loss must be replaced. Protecting the dermis with vitamin E oils can also reduce evaporation.
Predictive skills are worth learning. Plan ahead for journeys and sporting activities and keep a source of refreshment to hand. Avoid high-calorie versions of beverages and increase raw fruit and vegetable intake. Kill two birds with one stone and drink herbal infusions with calming or stimulating ingredients. We should never consider alcohol a replacement for water; it has a dehydrating effect. Gastrointestinal illnesses where diarrhea or vomiting occur should be treated by a medical professional if ongoing over two to three days, less in the elderly and in infants.
By replenishing lost fluids and imbibing throughout the day, most cases are fleeting. As with fruit in a food dehydrator, a person sitting outside on a hot day without regular intake of fluids will eventually succumb to the many side effects of dehydration described in earlier paragraphs.
However, replacing lost liquids should be a step-by-step approach, consuming small glasses of water at regular intervals instead of immediately pouring a liter bottle. Knowing how to treat dehydration is important. Often, electrolytes will need to be recouped, especially in cases of inexorable or chronic dehydration. Sports drinks contain adequate electrolytes as do saline solutions. Powdered electrolyte sachets produced specifically for infants or adults with gastrointestinal disorders are also recommended.
Signs of dehydration in the elderly often include behavioral issues including disorientation and aggression. Dehydration treatment might, therefore, require hospitalization. In the very young, severe dehydration symptoms must be superintended as rapidly as possible and, again, an overnight clinic stay is, on occasion, requisite. Dehydration in pregnancy must be monitored closely. Saline or glucose solutions are administered intravenously and recovery is usually rapid.