- Dehydration means deficit of water and electrolytes (sodium and potassium salts) occurring due to their excessive loss in stools (in case of diarrhea) or other ways (vomiting, excessive sweating) and when there is inadequate replenishment.
- Both fluid and electrolytes are very important for proper functioning of various body systems. Therefore they need to be replaced promptly.
- Dehydration is very common in diarrhea due to cholera.
- Dehydration is particularly dangerous in children where it can lead to death if it is severe and left untreated.
- A special rehydration solution (ORS) recommended by World Health Organization (WHO) contains all required electrolytes and nutrients. It is recommended for use in diarrhea to prevent “Some dehydration”.
- “Severe dehydration” is treated with intravenous fluids and the patient needs to be admitted to a hospital.
Signs and Symptoms of dehydration
“Some dehydration” – Loss of up to 5 – 10% of fluids in body weight. This can be assessed by the patient himself as by looking at the following parameters :
- Dry skin, tongue and mouth
- Sunken eyes
- Increased thirst
- Infrequent dark colored urine
- Irritable, listless or apathic child
- Skin returns slowly to normal level when pinched and released
- Rapid pulse rate (tachycardia)
“Severe dehydration” – Loss of more than 10% of fluids in body weight. This can be assessed by the patient himself as by looking at the following parameters (signs that indicate severe dehydration and need immediate medical attention) :
- No urine in past six hours
- Absence of tears in a crying child
- Cold and clammy hands and feet
- Excessive drowsiness
- Skin either returns very slowly or does not return at all on being pinched and released
- Feeble or absent pulse
- Low blood pressure (hypotension)
People at risk of death
- Patient with severe dehydration
- Child under 5 years with dysentery
- Patient with serious underlying condition such as malnutrition
- Elderly person (above 50 years)