One of the dangers of hot weather is dehydration. It’s important to understand what dehydration is, so you can keep yourself out of any danger zone.
What causes dehydration?
According to ER24’s Russel Meiring, dehydration is a condition that occurs when your body loses more water than it is taking in and is very common in babies and elderly people. “With dehydration, more water is moving out of our cells and bodies faster than what we take in through drinking,” he says.
While many people never realise it, dehydration can be dangerous for you and your loved ones. “Being dehydrated can have a number of dangers like confusion, fainting, seizures and eventually it may lead to death,” says Russel.
Dehydration can be mild, moderate or severe – it all depends on the amount of water that your body has lost.
You can become dehydrated through losing too much water, too much sweating, vomiting, diarrhoea or if you are urinating too much. Or you could be dehydrated simply from not drinking enough water. This could be through a sickness, exhaustion or any other physical discomfort you are going through that prevents you from drinking enough water.
ER24 warns that as the hotter temperatures start approaching, you need to be on the lookout for any danger signs, especially if you have not been drinking enough water or you have not been feeling well. The signs and symptoms for dehydration range from minor to severe and include:
- Increased thirst
- Dry mouth and swollen tongue
- Palpitations (feeling that the heart is jumping or pounding)
- Inability to sweat
- Decreased urine output
Treating dehydration at home
If you see and suspect any of the symptoms in yourself or a family member, don’t rush into gulping down litres of water. First you need to bring down those high temperatures by sipping on water or even sucking on ice cubes.
“One of the first steps in treating dehydration is to gradually cool the patient. This can be done by evaporation with mists and fans or cooling blankets and baths. Once the temperatures are cooling down you must also drink fluids that contain carbohydrate, along with water,” says Russel.
When to see a doctor or seek medical attention
Other cases of dehydration can be treated at home, especially if it is not severe. But ER24 says medical attention should be sought if you experience any of the following:
- Increased or constant vomiting for more than a day
- Fever over 38°C
- Diarrhoea for over two days
- Decreased urine production
- Sluggishness (lethargy)
It’s important to try and keep your family out of the danger zone this summer season by preventing dehydration before it even happens. Dehydration can be prevented in a number of ways, including:
- Make sure that an adequate amount of water is consumed during the day.
- Plan ahead and take extra water to all outdoor events and work as this is where increased sweating, activity, and heat stress will increase fluid losses.
- Avoid exercise during high peak temperature, especially during the middle of the day.
- Ensure that older people and children have adequate drinking water or fluids available and assist them as necessary.
- Avoid drinking alcohol, especially when the weather is very hot.