A Hydration Q & A
Q. How can I prevent dehydration?
A. Dehydration happens when the body eliminates more fluids than it absorbs. Drinking inadequate amounts of hydrating fluids during exercise, hot weather, or daily activities can cause the body to use up its stored water. To prevent dehydration, watch the amount of fluid you drink, listen to your body, and drink more liquids during exercise and hot weather.
Q. Can I treat dehydration at home?
A. Dehydration occurs over time. If it can be recognized in its earliest stages, and if its cause can be addressed, home treatment may be beneficial and adequate.
Steps a person can take at home to prevent severe dehydration include:
- Individuals with vomiting and diarrhea can try to alter their diet and use medications to control symptoms to minimize water loss. Clear fluids often recommended as the diet of choice for the first 24 hours, with gradual progression to a BRAT diet (bananas, rice, apples, toast) and then adding more foods as tolerated.
- Imodium may be considered to control diarrhea.
- Acetaminophen or ibuprofen may be used to control fever.
- Fluid replacements may be attempted by small, frequent amounts of clear fluids. The amount of fluid required to maintain hydration depends upon the individual's weight. The average adult needs between two and three liters of fluid per day.
If the person becomes confused or lethargic; if there is persistent, uncontrolled fever, vomiting, or diarrhea; or if there are any other specific concerns, then medical care should be accessed.
Emergency medical system (EMS) or 911 should be activated for any individual with altered mental status -- confusion, lethargy, or coma.
Causes of Dehydration in Adults
Many conditions may cause rapid and continued fluid losses and lead to dehydration:
- Fever, heat exposure, and too much exercise
- Vomiting, diarrhea, and increased urination due to infection
- Diseases such as diabetes
- The inability to seek appropriate water and food (as in the case of a disabled person)
- An impaired ability to drink (for instance, someone in a coma or on a respirator)
- No access to safe drinking water
- Significant injuries to skin, such as burns or mouth sores, or severe skin diseases or infections (water is lost through the damaged skin)
Symptoms of Dehydration in Adults
The signs and symptoms of dehydration range from minor to severe and include:
- Increased thirst
- Dry mouth and swollen tongue
- Palpitations (feeling that the heart is jumping or pounding)
- Sluggishness fainting
- Inability to sweat
- Decreased urine output
Status of Men's Health
- African American men live 7.1 years less than other racial groups
- African American men experience disproportionately higher death rates in all the leading causes of death
- 40% of African American men die prematurely from cardiovascular disease as compared to 21% of White men
- African American men are 5 times more likely to die of HIV/AIDS
- 44% of African American men are considered overweight and 24% are obese
- African American men suffer a higher incidence of diabetes and prostate cancer
- African American men do commit suicide. Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death in 15 to 24 year old Black males