Don’t Take Dehydration Lightly
by Kua Chong Han, Patient Care Pharmacist
Walking around feeling thirsty with no water in sight may sound like a desert scene from a movie.
But in reality, many suffer from dehydration because they do not see the dangers that come with it.
What is dehydration?
Dehydration occurs when your body has a greater loss of water than what you take in, resulting in a
drop in the body's water content.
Every drop matters
To stay healthy, it is important to maintain the balance of water in our body as water is an essential
component for our body to function properly.
Water is required for most of the processes carried out in the body. They include lubricating the
joints and eyes, aiding digestion, flushing out waste and toxins, and keeping the skin healthy.
Causes of dehydration
There are many factors that can result in dehydration in a person.
- Persistent diarrhoea or vomiting
- Sweating due to fever or strenuous activities under hot conditions
- Over-consumption of alcohol
- Health conditions such as diabetes
Types & symptoms of dehydration
Dehydration can be classified as mild, moderate or severe, and can be differentiated from the
amount of body weight lost (i.e. 5% to 6% loss in body weight for mild, 7% to 10%
loss in body weight for moderate).
Some early signs of dehydration include:
- Feeling thirsty or light-headed
- Having dark-coloured or strong-smelling urine
- Passing out urine less frequently
- Constipation in long-term cases
Severe dehydration can also lead to low blood pressure or fits, and can be fatal in extreme conditions.
How much water is enough?
In the past, it is recommended that we drink about 1.2 to 1.5 litres of water daily to maintain good
health. However, research has shown that there is no fixed amount on the fluid a person needs to
take in daily.
A person’s daily fluid intake requirement changes every day, depending on several factors including
weather, humidity level and activity level.
The best gauge will be to drink more water when you feel thirsty or show signs of dehydration.
More juices, less caffeine
Of all drinks, water, milk and fruit juices are the healthier choices if your body needs some hydration.
On the contrary, caffeinated drinks like coffee and tea may cause you to urine more frequently and
should be taken in moderation.
Alcohol also has a dehydrating effect on the body, so remember to drink more water when
consuming alcohol. Replenishing the water content in your body after exercising is also a must.
When to consult a doctor
If the symptoms of dehydration continue or worsen, do visit your family doctor for a more thorough
check-up and monitoring. Your doctor may call for a blood test or urine test to rule out any other
possible medical conditions which could cause dehydration.