Health-conscious individuals love fun runs, and Pao Baldisimo, 29, a property consultant, was into this activity for three years. He began challenging himself at five kilometers, then pushed himself to reach the 21-kilometer mark. He experienced shaky, weak legs until they began cramping, and was exhausted and near-faint after finishing his longest run. In his haste to reach the end, he forgot to hydrate.
Water comprises up to 75 percent of the human body, mostly found within cells. Dehydration happens when an excessive loss of body fluids impedes the normal functions of the body.
The common signs of dehydration are:
• dry lips and tongue;
• irritability, sleepiness or tiredness;
• decreased production of tears when crying;
• decreased urine output: fewer than six wet diapers a day for
infants and eight hours or more without urination for older children and teens;
• dizziness or lightheadedness; and
• muscle weakness.
Water is important to the kidneys and the brain; circulating fluids go to the vital organs first, so prolonged dehydration may cause organ failure. When fluid loss overwhelms the body's ability to compensate, blood flow and oxygen delivery to the body's vital organs become inadequate and cell and organ function can begin to fail due to oxygen deprivation.
The most common type of dehydration is isotonic dehydration or the equal loss of water and electrolytes, which equates to decreased blood volume. Fluid replacement is sometimes neglected by people going to the gym and engaging in long hours of weight-lifting or cardiovascular exercise. In the pursuit of better body contours, some people overstay in the steam room beyond the recommended 15 minutes, or self-medicate with diuretics to lose weight abruptly. Both activities lead to electrolyte problems and dehydration.
Water, water, everywhere …
Diarrhea also causes dehydration, especially in the Philippines, where it’s a major public health problem. Over the past 20 years, it has consistently ranked second to fourth among the leading causes of morbidity and mortality and is also a significant contributor to malnutrition.
Some people self-medicate themselves with drugs such as loperamide to minimize the effects of loose bowel movements or LBM. It’s not advisable for infectious diarrhea because this drug decreases intestinal movement and may retain the infection inside the gut. Just give yourself time, stay in the comfort room, release the unwanted pathogens and replace your fluids with an oral rehydration solution after every bout. Consult a doctor if dehydration still persists.
Ironically, one of the contributing causes of diarrhea, which leads to dehydration, is an unclean source of water. Children and the elderly are commonly victims of dehydration due to malnutrition and disease conditions such as cholera, gastroenteritis, amoebiasis or shigellosis—requiring immediate hospitalization and rehydration.
Keeping good organ health
Drinking eight to 10 glasses of purified water a day is a good start to maintaining fluid balance in our body. Cooling down with frequent showers or baths this summer is recommended. If you lead an active lifestyle, remember to rehydrate often, while giving yourself enough time to work out. Invest in a timepiece and a water bottle.
To avoid diarrhea-induced dehydration, always wash your hands thoroughly before meals. Invest in wholesome food items and beverages. Re-assess those tempting sticks of isaw and fishballs from sidewalk vendors—or eat from reputable establishments.
For more on dehydration and how to battle it this summer, grab a copy of HealthToday’s pre-summer issue, out now in newsstands and bookstores.