If necessary, humans can survive for a few weeks without food. Without hydration, a person dies after about three days. He gradually poisons. Loss of fluid or desiccosis can therefore be life-threatening and, in the worst case, fatal. How can it be dehydration come and how can you prevent it? How do diseases contribute to fluid loss?
Fluid loss can have many causes. Symptoms of dehydration can occur especially in the elderly or in need of care.
Fluid loss is the condition of insufficient fluid supply in the body, either because the body has received too little fluid or as a result of causes that actively cause fluid loss in the body, for example illnesses.
Dehydration cannot generally be measured in liters or milliliters in the body; rather, a number of typical dehydration symptoms occur, in which fluid loss is expressed. The body becomes poisoned because toxins or waste products from the body can no longer be sufficiently excreted with the urine.
Fluid loss can have many causes. Dehydration symptoms can occur especially in the elderly or in need of care, as they usually suffer from several illnesses or restrictions at the same time that promote dehydration.
They are often incontinent and therefore do not want to drink much, have poor eyesight or forget to drink fluids. Illnesses, especially diarrhea, can also lead to fluid loss. However, fluid loss can also occur as a result of excessive physical activity at high outside temperatures. Fever and the associated excessive sweating can also dry out the body.
Likewise, diabetes diseases (diabetes mellitus, diabetes insipidus) lead to an increased frequency of excretion, which promotes fluid loss. The causes can be varied and should always be examined by a doctor in case of doubt.
The diagnosis of hydration is relatively easy to make based on the skin condition. It looks like parchment, if you draw a fold with your thumb and forefinger, for example on the back of your hand, this fold remains. If the skin were supplied with enough fluid, the skin would immediately return to its original state.
In general, the skin appears wrinkled and undersupplied, even when the first loss of fluid is an acute condition. Usually hallucinations or other psychological peculiarities also occur. Delirium can also occur. If treatment is not taken, the course is ultimately fatal, since ureas are not excreted.
If the body is no longer supplied with fluids or if the loss is too great despite intake (due to illness), the body dries out and dies. There is also an increased risk of suffering from thrombosis or similar diseases. The blood "thickens" and clots can form, which can trigger embolisms, strokes or heart attacks.
A lack of fluids, also known as dehydration or dehydration, is in most cases associated with a disruption of the salt balance (electrolyte balance).
If the fluid loss rises to 12 to 15%, a shock can occur, which is first represented by an acute circulatory weakness and then a disturbance of consciousness. If the lack of fluids is not corrected immediately, symptoms such as lethargy and confusion up to delirium or coma can set in. If diarrhea and vomiting have caused dehydration, these symptoms may worsen and persist, leading to further loss of fluids and electrolytes. On the other hand, like a high fever, these symptoms cannot occur as a trigger, but as a consequence.
If the dehydration is not quickly compensated for, the blood plasma can thicken and the risk of thrombosis increases significantly. As a result, venous blood vessels can become blocked. In severe cases, acute kidney failure occurs. This risk is particularly high with previously damaged kidneys.
If the dehydration was caused by an infection, for example a Salmonella infection, it must be clarified whether pathogens have already entered the bloodstream. In rare cases, there is a risk of pericarditis (inflammation of the pericardium) and endocarditis (inflammation of the inner lining of the heart). Pneumonia (inflammation of the lungs), spondylitis (inflammation of the vertebrae), osteomyelitis (inflammation of the bone marrow), arthritis (inflammation of the joints) or meningitis (meningitis) cannot be completely ruled out.
There are several reasons for fluid loss. In addition to drinking too little or sweating too much, vomiting, diarrhea, fever or metabolic disorders such as diabetes can also lead to considerable fluid loss. In addition to the loss of fluid itself, there is always a loss of electrolytes, which are extremely important for the body. It therefore makes sense to have a doctor examine you as early as possible in the event of physical fluid loss.
The doctor can use his experience to judge whether his patient's fluid loss needs to be treated with medication or whether conservative therapy with a change in diet including plenty of drinking and otherwise waiting is sufficient. He also knows that if you lose fluids, viruses, bacteria or parasites may be the causes. This may require more extensive treatment and is another reason to see a doctor immediately if you lose fluids.
Anyone who comforts himself as a patient with the fact that, for example, he is just about to avoid gastrointestinal flu and the associated loss of fluids is normal, is acting recklessly.
Loss of fluids is not only dangerous as such, it can also trigger other dangerous diseases such as thrombosis, heart attacks and strokes. This is because fluid loss also affects the blood, which becomes thicker or more viscous. A timely visit to the doctor in the event of fluid loss therefore has a preventive effect against other diseases in addition to therapy.
As a rule, if there is a threatening chronic or acute loss of fluid, the patient will receive an infusion, ideally an intravenous infusion that is placed into the vein. A subcutaneous infusion, i.e. an infusion through the skin, is also possible, but the body uses it much more slowly.
Depending on the type of fluid loss, nutrients or minerals can be added to this infusion, but mostly it is a simple saline solution (NaCl = sodium chloride) that the patient at risk receives. Treatment of a possible underlying disease is of course also in the foreground. If you have diarrhea, it will be treated.
A loss of fluids leads to a very unhealthy and threatening condition for the body. This must be avoided in any case or treated immediately. If fluid loss continues and is left untreated, death usually occurs after three days.
The physical functions are severely restricted by the loss of fluids. There are delusions, headaches, delirium and coma. Loss of fluid is not uncommon in fever and gastrointestinal diseases. In this case, the patient must increase the fluid intake to make up for the loss. Long-term fluid loss can lead to kidney failure.
In most cases, fluid loss can be treated well. For this purpose, the patient is given an infusion, which not only provides him with fluid, but also with important nutrients. Minerals are also included in this infusion. The sufferer should drink plenty of fluids during the day to prevent fluid loss. This is especially true on hot summer days and during strenuous physical activity. A treatment is successful in most cases and there are no further restrictions.
As a preventive measure, you can ensure that you drink enough fluids every day. Diluted fruit juices or spritzers, unsweetened teas or mineral water are best suited for this. People should consume around two liters of fluids per day; we already take in some fluids through foods such as yoghurt or fruit and vegetables (melons, cucumbers, tomatoes, etc.).
During exercise, flu symptoms or on hot days, the fluid intake should always be adjusted to the new conditions. For example, 1/2 liter should be drunk for every half hour of exercise to prevent desiccosis (dehydration). Conditions that lead to fluid loss should always be treated. Loss of fluids can quickly become life-threatening, especially in people with a weakened immune system, i.e. sick people, the elderly or small children.
Infusions can also be given preventively in high-risk patients, but this should not be a permanent solution. Fluid loss is not to be taken lightly and should always be addressed.
Inadequate hydration can cause serious damage, in the worst case death. In the event of acute dehydration, the patient should be given fluids and the emergency doctor should be notified immediately.
In less severe cases, dehydration can also be remedied by yourself. Often older people are affected who consciously drink little or no longer develop a sufficient feeling of thirst because of urinary incontinence. These people should do a self-test regularly. The skin on the hand or on the forearm is pressed together. If the skin fold created in this way does not smooth out again immediately, the body is not supplied with sufficient fluid. Those affected should then set up a drinking plan and stick to it consistently.
Fluid loss is also common during or after exercise. Endurance athletes in particular should therefore always have a water bottle with them and take regular drinking breaks. The risk of dehydration is particularly great at high temperatures. Sport should therefore not be done during the midday heat or on days with extreme temperatures. In addition, after heavy sweating, you must ensure that you have an adequate supply of minerals.
If the fluid loss is due to diarrhea, the patient can first treat the underlying disease. In naturopathy, charcoal tablets are recommended, which bind bacteria and their toxins. Dried blueberries are also considered a mild remedy for diarrhea. At the same time, the patient should drink enough fluids and eat savory snacks containing sodium so that the body can also store the supplied fluid.