JANUARY 10, 2018

At this time of year with many of us enjoying activities outdoors in the sun dehydration is a real risk particularly for the young and the elderly. Dehydration occurs when our bodies do not have enough fluid to function properly. Fluid can be used or lost most commonly through sweating in hot weather or during exercise and in cases of vomiting and diarrhoea.

Signs of dehydration

Feeling thirsty isn’t always a reliable indication of dehydration. It is common to be dehydrated before actually feeling thirsty.

Children and babies have sunken cheeks, eyes and fontanel as well as a dry mouth and tongue when they are dehydrated. Dry nappies for 2-3 hours is another sign in babies. Feeling irritable and tired is a sign in children, babies and adults.

Adults can feel dizzy and confused when dehydrated and often have less frequent and darker urine.

Certain medications and medical conditions can make dehydration more likely. These include diabetes, kidney disease and the use of diuretics.

Treatment of dehydration

Replacing lost fluid as well as electrolytes is important in dehydration. Rehydration solutions can be purchased ready made or in tablet or sachet form that can be made up with water or in icypoles that make it easier for children. Children can sip on the liquid from the icypole pouch as a drink while waiting for the rest to freeze. The amount of solution needed depends on the severity of the symptoms.

Severe dehydration needs to be treated at hospital. Severe vomiting and diarrhoea and dehydration causing someone to be incoherent needs urgent treatment.

Avoiding dehydration

It is important to drink more water in hot weather and when working/playing outdoors. It is a good idea to drink rehydration solution as a preventative when outdoors in very hot weather for periods of time.

Drinking alcohol when in the sun makes dehydration more likely. Always follow an alcoholic drink with a drink of water and drink alcohol sparingly in hot weather.