Should I Go To Urgent Care for Dehydration?
Dehydration occurs when the body does not have a sufficient amount of fluids to properly function and you lose more fluids are consumed. This can easily occur on a hot day when your body produces sweat to stay cool, or when you are sick and vomit or have diarrhea.
Mild dehydration can usually be treated at home simply by drinking more fluids. Moderate cases of dehydration may require you to visit the hospital and receive fluids intravenously of through an IV. Severe dehydration should be considered a medical emergency as it can be fatal when it is not treated. If necessary, go to the nearest hospital, quick care clinic or urgent care center for treatment.
Dehydration can happen to anyone at any age including infants, young children, and older adults who are at a higher risk for becoming dehydrated.
Your body is comprised of about 55%-60% water. It is important to consume a large amount of water in order for your body to complete routine daily functions. The average adult requires about three quarts of water each day. When you do not take in enough water due to an illness or because of other reasons, you may begin to experience mild signs of dehydration.
Common causes of dehydration in healthy adults include the following:
- Sweating in response to activity or extreme heat
Signs and symptoms of dehydration are dependent on your age and how severe your dehydration is. Signs of dehydration in babies and young children can include:
- Dry mouth or tongue
- Crying without the production of tears
- Not having a wet diaper for 3 or more hours
- High fever
- Sunken eyes or cheeks
- Drowsiness, being lethargic or sleepy
Signs of mild to moderate dehydration in adults include:
- Feeling thirsty
- Dry and sticky mouth
- Dry skin
- Infrequent urination
- Dark yellow urine
- Muscle cramps
Severe dehydration is defined by the loss of 10-15% of the water in the body. Signs and symptoms of severe dehydration include the following:
- Not urinating at all or having extremely dark yellow pee
- Dry skin
- Rapid heartbeat or breathing
- Sunken eyes
- Feeling lethargic
- Tiredness, confusion or irritable
Mild to moderate dehydration can usually be treated at home. Below are the recommendations to reverse the effects of dehydration.
- Slowly drink water
- Eat ice cubes or popsicles
- Slowly drink a beverage which contains electrolytes
- Avoid driving caffeinated beverages which includes coffee, tea, or soda. Caffeine may cause more frequent urination.
Moderate to severe dehydration needs medical attention. Go to an emergency room or call 911. Untreated severe dehydration can cause seizures, permanent brain damage, and even death.
Call your family doctor if you’re not sure if your symptoms are serious enough to go to the hospital.
In general, adults can prevent dehydration by simply drinking water when they are thirsty. Consuming foods which have a high water content like fruits and vegetables is also beneficial. It is important to be familiar with the situations which can cause dehydration. Be sure to drink addition fluids when you need to, including:
- During hot weather, especially if you will be outside
- When exercising or producing high volumes of sweat
- When you have a high fever, diarrhea, or are vomiting
Do not wait for these signs of dehydration to kick in before you start drinking liquids. Plan ahead and make sure you always have access to sufficient quantities of water.
Some groups of people are at a higher risk for becoming dehydrated including:
- Infants and young children
- Older adults
- People who have a chronic illnesses such as diabetes
- People who are taking specific medications
If you are at greater risk or are a caregiver for someone who is at high risk for dehydration, be sure to plan ahead and always have plenty of water with you in order to prevent dehydration.
When it remains untreated, dehydration can lead to serious complications which can include:
- Heat-related illness such as heat cramps, heat exhaustion, or heatstroke
- Kidney issues: kidney stones and kidney failure
- Electrolyte imbalances which can lead to a disturbance in heart rhythm and seizures.
- Shock, coma, and even death
More on Dehydration : What are the Symptoms of Dehydration?