What are the effects of dehydration?
You've all heard of dehydration before, but do you really know its effects? Do you know how to concretely recognize the effects of dehydration on your body?
Here we are going to give you some keys to recognize the signs of dehydration and remedy them as soon as possible.
Dehydration is the result of a loss of salt and isotonic plasma water, not compensated by intake, but what are the concrete effects?
First of all, you should know that there are several types of dehydration: extracellular dehydration, intracellular dehydration and global (or chronic) dehydration. There are common effects to these dehydrations and more specific signs to distinguish them.
This is not a problem to be taken lightly because the effects of dehydration can be dramatic on your health!
1. Most common causes of dehydration
Their causes are substantially identical for the three types of dehydration.
First of all, there are kidney losses : among these we can mention too much diuresis (volume of urine evacuated in 24 hours), which is found for example in the case of diabetes. They can also be caused by different pathologies: mainly kidney failure of different types.
Digestive losses are also a common cause of dehydration that must be remedied quickly: the most obvious examples are diarrhea and vomiting.
Skin losses are an insidious cause whose impacts are too often underestimated, including profuse sweating, fever and heatstroke.
Like skin losses, lung losses do not necessarily seem very important to us, but be aware that hyperventilation during sports practice is one of the causes of intracellular dehydration.
Other external factors can come into play to dehydrate us and excessive alcohol consumption is a very good example.
2. General effects of dehydration
We often have a feeling of thirst but we must hydrate ourselves before being thirsty because dehydration has already started when it appears. In addition, this feeling may not appear at all or disappear after a while, so one may forget to hydrate and the dehydration worsens. This is why it is necessary to ensure that children and the elderly are well hydrated in summer.
The most frequent common symptoms of dehydration are in the first place: headaches, fatigue, dizziness, confusion. We sometimes realize that we have a headache after a long day where we haven't hydrated and that goes away when we rehydrate.
The evolution of the weight curve is given is very important, indeed, it is according to the weight loss that one can evaluate the severity of the dehydration.
- Moderate dehydration corresponds to a weight loss of less than 10% of body weight : the associated symptoms are dry mucous membranes, depressed fontanel, dark circles around the eyes, cold extremities.
- Severe dehydration corresponds to a loss greater than or equal to 10% of body weight : the associated symptoms are persistent skin folds, very dry inner cheeks, hypotonia (low muscle tone), weight loss, coldness limbs up to the elbows and/or knees, tachycardia (fast heart rate), oliguria (decreased urine volume)
- Extremely severe dehydration corresponds to a weight loss greater than 15% of body weight : the associated symptoms are impaired consciousness, collapse and cold limbs to the root.
3. Effects of Extracellular Dehydration
What is this ?
This type of dehydration results from a loss of water at the extracellular level while the volume of intracellular water remains the same, we keep an effective extracellular osmotic pressure.
Here is a list of symptoms that will point you in the direction of extracellular dehydration:
- Lack of appetite, no thirst
- The mucous membranes remain moist
- Low weight loss
- Appearance of peripheral and jugular veins: flat with cold, discolored ends, this is a sign of low central venous pressure.
- Drop in blood pressure with hypotension-orthostatic: the consequence is an acceleration of the pulse to compensate and continue the normal supply of oxygen to the organs.
- Loss of skin tone with net skin fold: at the level of the abdominal wall, the subclavicular region and the inner face of the thighs (Difficult to interpret in the elderly).
- The eyeballs are sunken and hypotonic.
We will suspect a case of severe extracellular dehydration in front of: very low blood pressure (less than 80 mmHg), cold extremities and the presence of mottling on the skin
What are the risks ?
The complications of severe extracellular dehydration are: hypovolemic shock with acute tubulopathy or oliguria with renal failure.
4. Effects of intracellular dehydration
What is it ?
Intracellular dehydration occurs when the intracellular sector becomes dehydrated and therefore contracts on itself: because there is an increase in plasma osmolarity (often too high sodium concentration) that the body has compensated for by sending water from the sector intracellular in plasma to dilute excess sodium
Here is a list of symptoms that will point you in the direction of intracellular dehydration :
- Uncontrollable thirst with impaired consciousness ranging from confusion to coma.
- Significant weight loss of up to 20% or more.
- It is often accompanied by fever and a significant respiratory rate which aggravates water loss.
- The mucous membranes are dried up and the tongue retracted.
- Blood pressure is normal, skin veins appear normal.
- Neurological disorders after an appropriate examination.
What are the risks ?
The consequences of the extent of intracellular dehydration are judged essentially on the depth of neurological damage, often well correlated with the extent of hyperosmolarity.
The subdural hematoma is a serious neurological consequence, especially in the elderly and infants.
We find neuropsychic sequelae at a distance secondary to softening or parenchymal hemorrhage.
5. Complication: overall dehydration
This type of dehydration combines the signs of the 2 types of dehydration. It has more impact because it can become chronic and it is therefore harder to remedy.
It is frequently observed in diabetic decompensations, digestive losses (diarrhea); infections in the elderly (especially pneumonia)
The exchanges involved result in hypotonic losses (diarrhoea, vomiting) causing on the one hand a contraction of the extracellular medium and on the other hand a contraction of the intracellular medium.
6. Some tips to remedy dehydration
The population most vulnerable to dehydration is that of the elderly, especially in summer and heat waves: they must be made to drink regularly if they do not think about it themselves to avoid any complication and teach them the first signs of dehydration so they can deal with it on their own.
When dehydration is diagnosed, we first determine the cause, which will allow us to take appropriate care. Treat the cause of dehydration first rather than trying to compensate for it. For example, stopping vomiting is a priority because if we rehydrate while the person is still vomiting, it will be of no interest, the water will be evacuated before it can be assimilated.
To prevent osmotic imbalances, a simple daily solution is to consume isotonic drinks: rich in electrolytes, they promote hydration and prevent water leaks from one compartment to another. This is the solution that Hydratis offers you on a daily basis, its compact and discreet packaging allows you to use it everywhere in any situation, at sports or at home.
To learn more about isotonic drinks and electrolytes, do not hesitate to consult our articles on the subject.
Now that you know how to detect the signs of dehydration, you know what reflex to adopt to remedy it!