WASHINGTON, July 28, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As hot temperatures continue to soar throughout much of the country, the nation's emergency physicians are treating more people with heat-related illnesses with a focus on staying cool and keeping hydrated.
"Dehydration is very dangerous. It can lead to an emergency visit, and it can do significant damage to your body if left untreated," said Dr. Sandra Schneider, president of the American College of Emergency Physicians. "But dehydration is also easily preventable, especially if the cause is excessive heat."
Dehydration is when your body does not have the amount of water or fluids that it is supposed to have in order to function. According to the National Institute of Health, infants and children are more susceptible to dehydration than adults because their bodies are smaller and they have a higher turnover of water and electrolytes. The elderly as well as those with illnesses are also at a higher risk of becoming dehydrated.
Causes of Dehydration:
- Excessive sweating (from heat and/or exercise) with fluids not being replaced
- Vomiting and diarrhea
- Excessive urination (mainly with uncontrolled diabetes or the use of a diuretic)
Signs and Symptoms of Dehydration:
- Dry or sticky mouth
- Rapid heart rate
- Low blood pressure
- Inability to produce tears
- Low or no urine output for 8 hours or if urine is concentrated and appears dark yellow
- Sunken eyes
Untreated severe dehydration can cause seizures, brain damage or even be fatal. Most mild dehydration issues can simply be treated by drinking more water or fluids. Moderate cases may result in a visit to the emergency department where a patient may need to be given fluids intravenously.
Stay cautious! Call your doctor or visit the nearest emergency department if you notice dehydration symptoms and believe that dehydration is developing with you or someone around you.
How to Prevent Dehydration:
- Drink plenty of fluids every day and drink more when the weather is hot and/or you are exercising.
- Stay out of excessive heat if possible and always make sure to wear light clothing, sun block and protect your head by wearing a hat.
- Avoid alcoholic and caffeinated beverages as they can worsen dehydration and are not a suitable source of fluids for rehydration.
"Most of us would never leave our homes and offices without our wallets, cell phones and sunglasses," said Dr. Schneider. "Add bottled water to that list, at least during the hot summer; it'll help keep you cool, hydrated and hopefully out of the emergency department."
For more information on dehydration and other health-related topics, please go to www.EmergencyCareForYou.org.
ACEP is a national medical specialty society representing emergency medicine. ACEP is committed to advancing emergency care through continuing education, research and public education. Headquartered in Dallas, Texas, ACEP has 53 chapters representing each state, as well as Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia. A Government Services Chapter represents emergency physicians employed by military branches and other government agencies.
SOURCE American College of Emergency Physicians