Should I Go to an ER If I’m Dehydrated?
Dehydration is a condition that happens when your body is losing more fluid than you are taking in. When you lose this much fluid, it hinders your body’s ability to function properly. You may become dehydrated simply from being sick, or from overheating on a hot day.
As the weather warms here in Texas, it’s important to know when you need to seek emergency care for your symptoms.
Signs of Dehydration
When it comes to identifying signs of dehydration, they actually manifest differently in children and adults. Symptoms of dehydration in adults typically include:
- Extreme thirst
- Urinating less frequently
- Dark or amber-colored urine
- Fatigue or tiredness
- Dry skin
Small children and babies are actually more likely to become dehydrated because they cry and use the bathroom more frequently than adults. Symptoms of dehydration in children and infants typically include:
- Dry or sticky mouth and tongue.
- No tears when crying.
- No wet diapers for 3 or more hours.
- Eyes that appear sunken.
- A soft spot on the top of the head appears sunken.
- Increased irritability.
- Lethargy or tiredness.
- High fever.
Signs of Severe Dehydration
Moderate cases of dehydration may require a patient to receive fluids via an IV, but severe dehydration is a medical emergency that can be fatal if not treated. Signs of moderate to severe dehydration include:
- Dizziness or light-headedness.
- Irritability, delirium, or confusion.
- Rapid heartbeat and rapid breathing
- Fainting or unconsciousness
If dehydration is not treated, it can lead to complications such as:
Dehydration and the illnesses that can come along with it are the result of excessive heat from the environment and can also be caused by the body’s inability to cool itself. Heat injury can lead to a life-threatening heat stroke if left untreated.
Urinary and kidney problems
Dehydration can cause urinary tract infections, kidney stones, and kidney failure.
Becoming severely dehydrated can lead to seizures because the blood volume is too low and the electrolytes are out of balance.
Low blood volume shock
Low blood volume shock is a serious complication that can result from dehydration, and it can even be life-threatening. It happens when low blood volume causes the blood pressure to drop and the oxygen levels in the body to drop.