By Ryan MacArthur |

While the summer is great for a good time with family and friends, it also can be dangerous, particularly when it comes to dehydration. Dehydration is a potentially life-threatening condition where there is an inadequate amount of fluid in the body.

Roughly 60% of the human body consists of water. We routinely lose water when we breathe, sweat, urinate, or physically exert ourselves. Factors like spending time outdoors, high temperatures, drinking alcohol, or playing sports cause us to lose more water, increasing the risk of dehydration.

Symptoms of Dehydration

“The first and most easily felt symptom of dehydration is thirst. If dehydration continues without countermeasures, the body begins to compensate for the loss of fluid by increasing heart rate and blood pressure to maintain adequate blood flow to organs,” explains James Mapes, a James City County Firefighter and Busch Gardens Williamsburg EMT.

Common symptoms of dehydration include:

  • A dry or sticky mouth
  • Decreased or no urine output
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Concentrated, dark colored urine
  • Skin that doesn’t bounce back quickly when pinched
  • Headache

More severe symptoms include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Seizure

Dehydration Prevention

Drinking plenty of water is the simplest way to prevent dehydration. Mayo Clinic recommends drinking at least 125 oz. daily for men and 91 oz. daily for women.

If you’re exercising or will be outside in the heat, especially children and the elderly, it is recommended to increase your daily water intake.

When Do Patients Need an IV for Dehydration?

Getting an IV for dehydration is the fastest and most efficient way to replace fluids in the body, though not everyone who is dehydrated needs to seek medical treatment for an IV.

Healthcare providers typically use IV therapy to treat someone in the advanced stages of dehydration who needs fluids replaced immediately, like patients who are fainting or experiencing symptoms of heat stroke.

Mapes says, “It may take up to an hour for your body to process a liter of water through the bloodstream whereas an IV catheter will deliver fluid directly in the vein immediately.”

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