Dehydration: Cause and Effects
Water is essential for human life on average 60% to 65% of the bodies total mass is water. It forms the basis for all body fluids, including blood, and digestive juices. Water aids in the transportation and absorption of nutrients, and it helps eliminate waste. The average human uses 2.5 liters of water per day by simply breathing, sweating, and eliminating waste. We also lose electrolytes or minerals such as sodium, potassium, and calcium that maintain the balance of ...view middle of the document...
Every cell, tissue, and organ in our body relies on water for its very existence. That is why when we do not consume enough water our bodies will store what water it can get with a vengeance. This is why when people do start exercising they lose a large amount of weight quickly. That is excess water weight our bodies have been storing for just in case it does not obtain any water through the fluids we drink, or foods we eat.
How electrolytes function in the human body? Sodium is the major positive ion outside the cell membrane it also regulates the amount of water in the body. Sodium is also responsible for generating electrical signals to the brain, nervous system, and muscles. If our sodium levels are too high or too low it can cause our cells to malfunction, and in extreme cases cause death. Potassium is the major positive ion found inside cells it regulates our heartbeat, nerve impulses, and muscle function and is required for normal cell function. When potassium levels are too low a condition called hypokalemia occurs. When potassium levels are too high a condition called hyperkalemia occurs. The symptoms of both hypokalemia and hyperkalemia are abnormal heart rhythm, a breakdown of muscle fibers, fatigue, and constipation, and in extreme cases death can occur. Chloride is the major anion and is required to maintain fluid and electrolyte balance, extracellular volume, and serum osmolality.
Early symptoms of dehydration are dry or sticky mouth, thirst, decreased urine output, dizziness, or lightheadedness. The best way to gauge your hydration level is to examine your urine. If your urine is a light color then you are well hydrated, whereas if your urine is dark yellow this usually signals dehydration. More severe symptoms of dehydration are extreme thirst, a very dry mouth, skin and mucous membranes, a lack of sweating, little or no urine output, sunken eyes, low blood pressure, rapid heartbeat, fever, and in the most severe cases delirium or unconsciousness. At this point the patient needs immediate medical attention and have fluids administered immediately or death will occur.
How can we avoid becoming dehydrated? Whether you are an extreme athlete or a weekend warrior we each must replenish the fluids we use. We can do this by drinking large amounts of fluids and by eating fruits and vegetables that have water in them such as apples, and pears. The first warning sign of when you are...