Dehydration during heatwave
Bluebird Care Camden & Hampstead inform you about the risk of dehydration and how to prevent it.
Heatwave can be a cause of celebration for many but also come with a number of a health risks, including dehydration.
What is dehydration?
Dehydration is the loss of water and salts from the body. We need water to maintain our blood volume and blood pressure and to ensure our body functions properly. Along with water, the body also needs electrolytes, which are salts normally found in blood, other fluids, and cells.
Why do we need water?
The human body consists of nearly 60 per cent water; brain tissue is said to consist of about 85 per cent water.
Although fluid loss occurs during hard physical work, even simple tasks like gardening, walking or riding a bike can result in a significant loss of fluid within a very short period. We can also lose a lot of fluid in hot or humid conditions.
Stages of dehydration
The early stages of dehydration usually have no signs or symptoms, but can include dryness of the mouth and thirst. Other symptoms of early or mild dehydration may include:
- dry skin;
- passing less urine than normal;
- dizziness; and
- cramping in the arms and legs.
As dehydration increases, signs may include:
- extreme thirst and parched mouth and tongue;
- rapid pulse;
- dark, yellow urine;
- little or no urination;
- sunken eyes;
- in infants, a sunken fontanelle (the soft spot on the top of the head);
- skin that has lost its elasticity and doesn’t quickly return to its normal position after being pinched;
- absence of tears when crying;
- irritability or drowsiness; and
- irrational behaviour.
If you are with someone, particularly a child or young person or with an older person, who suddenly becomes dizzy, nauseated or weak during hot weather, get them indoors or in the shade. Replace lost fluids with water or an electrolyte solution and cool the person down with a tepid shower or sponge bath and by fanning air over their moist skin. Seek medical attention if the symptoms get worse or last for more than an hour.
If someone has dry, red skin, a fast pulse, looks confused or delirious, or feels very hot, that person is in extreme danger and you should seek medical attention immediately, as well as taking the steps outlined above.
During hot and humid weather, you are at higher risk of dehydration and heat-related illnesses, including cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. In severe cases, dehydration and heat stroke can result in shock and even death.
How do I combat dehydration during hot weather?
Water should be given to counteract dehydration in hot or humid weather, regardless of your activity level. Drinking water helps lower your body temperature and replace the fluid you lose through sweating. It should be drunk before you get to the stage of feeling thirsty.
It’s best to remember that other drinks, such as soft drinks, coffee, or alcohol-containing beverages, are no substitute for water. Although they contain water, they also contain ingredients which are dehydrating.
Sports drinks contain carbohydrates and electrolytes and are useful if exercising in hot weather. Oral rehydration solutions are also suitable. Children should be encouraged to drink water before, during and after exercising, especially if the weather is hot.
If you’d like to know more about how we support customers to avoid dehydration and live well at home or you have another query about our bespoke homecare, we’re always happy to have a chat. You can get in touch with us online or call us on 0207 449 0557.