Do you know the differences between mild and severe dehydration and how they affect you? Everyone experiences dehydration at times. Feeling thirsty, for example, is the body’s way of signaling that it needs fluids, and it’s usually possible to avoid further problems by drinking in response. At after hours home doctor, we often see patients at home affected by dehydration particularly in the summer. Dehydration can be extremely serious, though, so it’s important to know how you can tell whether you’re dehydrated and, if so, how severely.
What is Dehydration?
Dehydration occurs when your body’s fluid loss is greater than your fluid intake, leaving it with less than it needs to function properly. It can be caused by insufficient fluid intake or factors that cause rapid fluid loss such as prolonged exposure to heat, exertion when exercising, or illnesses such as vomiting and diarrhoea. The level of dehydration depends on how much fluid the body has lost and the resulting symptoms can range from mild to severe and life-threating if left untreated.
Mild to moderate dehydration
You may not be aware of some of the physical effects of the early stages of dehydration or may overlook them because you assume they have another cause. By learning to recognise the symptoms of mild to moderate dehydration, you can treat it before it progresses and becomes a major concern.
Some physical symptoms you should look out for are:
- Dark urine
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Dry mouth or lips
- Infrequent urination
In addition to the physical symptoms, dehydration can affect cognitive function, making it more difficult to complete tasks that you usually take for granted. You may find that you have difficulty concentrating, feel less alert, and have problems with your short-term memory.
Because dehydration can sap your strength, lower endurance and weaken your motivation and willpower, your ability to carry out physical tasks can be impaired. As a result, you may experience issues such as reduced exercise tolerance and athletic performance, and a reduced ability to perform manual labour tasks safely.
If you have mild to moderate dehydration, it can usually be treated by drinking more fluids and our after hours doctors can assist you with a quick assessment and treatment.
Severe dehydration occurs when moderate dehydration is left untreated, and the risk is increased by persistent vomiting or diarrhoea that lasts for 24 hours or longer. As severe dehydration can lead to serious complications and can be life-threatening, it’s important to seek immediate medical attention if you experience any of the following:
- Very dark yellow urine
- Not passing urine for 8 hours or more
- Diarrhoea lasting for 24 hours or more
- Feeling confused or disorientated
- Feeling unusually tired
- Dizziness that doesn’t go away
- Sunken eyes
- Rapid breathing or heart rate
You can reduce your risk of becoming dehydrated by drinking regularly and replacing fluids lost by sweating or due to vomiting or diarrhoea. You should now have a better understanding of dehydration and, most importantly. the signs you need to look out for.
Some sicknesses can make it difficult to leave your home to visit a regular GP. If you are experiencing difficulties, our After Hours GPs can visit you at home. Call CALL 1300 DR TO ME (1300 37 86 63) to organise a Perth Home Doctor to visit your home. Our Home Doctors are professional & experienced GPs and can diagnose & treat a wide range of illnesses from the comfort of your home. Call today!
Disclaimer: 1300 Dr To Me provides free health information blogs for the community to increase awareness on health & medical topics. The information in this article is educative and does not constitute diagnosis. Please consult a doctor, or request an urgent after hours GP visit should you or your children experience allergic symptoms.