Dehydration Prevalence In Australia
According to Couriermail, 80% of Australians suffer from symptoms typical of dehydration and the majority dont recognise key symptoms. The most common symptoms affecting Australians are lethargy and loss of energy . The research also showed that less than one in 10 Australians associate problems with concentration and mental impairment with dehydration, despite it being a common symptom for most .
Dehydration In Older People Could Be Detected By Routine Blood Tests
- University of East Anglia
- Dehydration in older people could be accurately identified as part of routine blood testing according to new research. The best test for diagnosing dehydration, known as a serum osmolality test, is expensive and not currently viable for wide-scale NHS screening. But new research published today reveals how routine blood tests for sodium, potassium, urea and glucose could be used to screen for dehydration.
Dehydration in older people could be accurately identified as part of routine blood testing according to new research from the University of East Anglia .
Older people are particularly at risk of water-loss dehydration — which is caused by not drinking enough fluid. It can lead to poor health outcomes such as disability and even death.
The best test for diagnosing dehydration, known as a serum osmolality test, is expensive and not currently viable for wide-scale NHS screening.
But new research reveals how routine blood tests for sodium, potassium, urea and glucose could be used to screen for dehydration.
Lead researcher Dr Lee Hooper from UEA’s Norwich Medical School said: “Around 20 per cent of older people living in residential care are dehydrated, and that figure rises to around 40 per cent among those admitted to hospital.
“On top of all that — as our kidneys get older we are less able to concentrate our urine to preserve fluid, so the body’s ability to regulate its fluid balance slowly reduces.
Effect Of Dehydration On Blood Glucose
The rise in glucose was found to be out of proportion to changes in metabolite concentrations that could be due to passive concentration of the plasma as a result of dehydration. Also, an increase in hepatic glucose production, with increased plasma glucose levels during hyperosmolality can be caused by dehydration.
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Dehydration And Low Blood Pressure
When your blood pressure reading is lower than 90/60 mm Hg, it results in low pressure, where dehydration can cause low blood pressure due to a decrease in blood volume. To adequately reach all the tissues of your body, maintaining a normal blood volume is necessary for blood. Therefore, when you are dehydrated, your blood volume can decrease, resulting in a drop in blood pressure. Thus, your organs won’t receive the nutrition and oxygen they need when blood pressure drops too low and can potentially result in shock.
Whats Dehydration And Why Does It Matter
When people use the term dehydration, they usually refer to what doctors call volume depletion or hypovolaemia.
Volume depletion is a reduction in the volume of water in the blood vessels. But dehydration is quite different and is less common. Its the loss of water from both blood vessels and the bodys cells.
Doctors are concerned about volume depletion and dehydration because adequate hydration is required for the body to function normally. Water maintains our body temperature and lubricates our joints. Our bodys cells rely on water as does our circulatory, respiratory, gastrointestinal and neurological systems.
Severe cases of volume depletion can lead to shock and collapse. Without resuscitation with fluid, the consequences may be devastating.
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What Are The Normal Ranges For Electrolytes
Your age, sex and preexisting health conditions can affect test results. And laboratories often use different methods for measuring electrolytes. This means results can vary from lab to lab.
Labs measure electrolytes by looking at the concentration of the substance in a specific amount of blood. In general, these are the normal ranges for electrolytes:
- Sodium: 136 to 144 mmol/L.
- Potassium: 3.7 to 5.1 mmol/L.
- Calcium: In adults, 8.5 to 10.2 mg/dL.
- Chloride: 97 to 105 mmol/L.
- Magnesium: 1.7 to 2.2 mg/dL.
- Phosphate: 2.5 to 4.8 mg/dL.
- Bicarbonate: 22 to 30 mmol/L.
Who Is At Risk From Dehydration
Anyone can become dehydrated, but certain groups are particularly at risk. These include:
- babies and infants they have a low body weight and are sensitive to even small amounts of fluid loss
- older people they may be less aware that they are becoming dehydrated and need to keep drinking fluids
- people with a long-term health condition such as diabetes or alcoholism
- athletes they can lose a large amount of body fluid through sweat when exercising for long periods
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Signs And Symptoms Of Dehydration
Other warning signs of dehydration include:
When your body doesnt have enough water, your salivary glands cant produce saliva. Your mouth might feel dry or sticky. You may notice that you have trouble talking or swallowing, your throat is sore, or your sense of taste has changed. Dry mouth can also lead to bad breath, because you dont have enough saliva to wash away bacteria.
Your body loses water when you urinate. If you dont have enough water in your system, youll urinate less. Your urine will also be darker. The color can provide clues as to your hydration status. A pale, straw-yellow color shows you that youre drinking enough. Darker yellow shades, however, let you know youre dehydrated. If youre not urinating at all, you should seek medical care right away.
If you notice any of these signs, you should seek medical care right away.
How Should I Prepare For An Electrolyte Blood Test
These steps can help a blood draw go smoothly:
- Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of fluids before the test to help blood flow easier through blood vessels.
- Avoid nicotine: Dont smoke before a blood draw. Nicotine constricts blood vessels, making it more difficult to insert the needle into a vein.
- Speak up: Let your provider know if you have a fear of needles or a fear of blood . There are steps they can take to make the blood draw easier for you.
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How Much Does The Test Cost
Several factors influence the cost of an electrolyte panel, including where the test is done, whether it is part of a larger battery of tests, and your health insurance status.
The total cost of the test can include several separate medical services, such as:
- The health care provider who draws your blood
- The laboratory that processes and analyzes your blood sample
- The health care providers who interpret your results and discuss them with you
Most health insurance covers the cost of tests ordered by a physician. If you are uncertain about coverage contact your insurance provider to clarify your costs before you take the test.
An electrolyte panel is available through Testing.com for as little as $39.
Dry Skin Decreased Skin Elasticity And Cracked Lips
One of the most common signs of dehydration is dry skin and lips and decreased skin elasticity .
If youre experiencing dry skin, dry mouth, and dry or cracking lips, dehydration may be contributing to these symptoms.
Keep in mind that dry skin and cracked lips can also be a sign of many other health conditions, so its important to get the right diagnosis, especially if youre experiencing dry skin or cracked lips even when youre drinking optimal amounts of water.
Healthcare professionals often use something called the skin turgor test to assess a persons hydration status.
The skin turgor test involves grasping the skin on the lower arm or abdomen between two fingers and then releasing it after a few seconds.
Hydrated skin will rapidly return to its normal position, while dehydrated skin will remain in a tented position and take much longer to bounce back (
Orthostatic hypotension is the medical term for a reduction in blood pressure when you stand or sit up .
Dehydration can lead to orthostatic hypotension. This is especially common among older adults, who are more at risk of developing dehydration and low blood volume .
Being dehydrated may cause you to feel dizzy and light-headed, especially when you stand or sit up quickly.
Severe dehydration may even lead to fainting in some cases, especially among older adults .
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Can Dehydration Affect An Electrolyte Test
Yes. Electrolytes are minerals found in body tissues and fluids in the form of dissolved salts and are responsible for maintaining a healthy water balance. A typical electrolyte panel measures sodium, potassium, chloride, and bicarbonate. Any condition that affects the amount of fluid in the bodyincluding dehydrationcan cause an electrolyte imbalance.
Can Dehydration Skew A Cholesterol Test
Yes, it is possible for dehydration to skew the results of a cholesterol test. This is attributed to the fact that dehydration can cause blood volume to decrease, leading to a drop in blood pressure and blood flow. When this occurs, it increases the risk of cholesterol accumulation in the arteries. Additionally, the body may increase the production of cholesterol in response to severe dehydration, in order to protect cell membranes.
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What Happens To Blood Cells When Dehydrated
If dehydration continues, tissues of the body begin to dry out, and cells begin to shrivel and malfunction. In severe dehydration, the sensation of thirst may actually decrease and blood pressure can fall, causing light-headedness or fainting, particularly upon standing (a condition called orthostatic hypotension.
Whos Most At Risk And Why
Some groups are more susceptible to volume depletion, including:
- elderly people like Tom, as our total body water reduces with age and the elderly often have a reduced sensation of thirst. Many older people also have other health problems including chronic kidney disease, which may impact the ability to concentrate urine when the volume is depleted
- babies, because they arent able to articulate when theyre thirsty. They have a higher metabolic rate than adults meaning they require more fluid
- people with impaired thirst mechanisms such as the elderly or people with certain brain injuries
- people losing large volumes of fluid via the bowel
- people taking medications that promote water loss, in particular diuretics, often referred to as water tablets.
These vulnerable groups need to be aware of the increased risk of volume depletion, minimise their risk by maintaining fluid levels, recognise the symptoms of volume depletion early, and seek prompt treatment, including going to hospital if necessary.
If you experience the symptoms of volume depletion its important to take heed. At home, start with water if youre thirsty. Once dizziness is present, significant volume loss has ensued and a trip to the doctor is in order. Confusion mandates emergency treatment.
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Treating Dehydration In Infants And Toddlers
If your infant or young child has experienced diarrhea, vomiting, or fever causing dehydration, you can treat it with an over-the-counter rehydration solution, such as Pedialyte or a similar brand. If youre not sure which to choose, ask your pediatrician if they suggest a particular brand. These solutions are made up of specific ratios of water, sugars, and salts that help the body take in fluids and are taken orally. Its recommended to start by giving your child 1-2 teaspoons of the solution every five minutes, and then gradually increase the amount as your child is willing to drink more.
If your baby refuses to drink or has trouble swallowing the solution, you may opt to use a syringe to push the liquid down the throat.
Seek Help For Severe Dehydration From A Healthcare Professional
You can usually manage your mild dehydration by increasing your fluid intake. However, its important to note that severe dehydration can be life threatening and should be treated by a healthcare professional.
If you or a loved one is experiencing signs of severe dehydration, contact a healthcare professional immediately. This is especially important for infants, children, and older adults, who are more susceptible to dehydration.
Risk factors for severe dehydration included prolonged diarrhea or vomiting, extreme exercise, laxative use, burns, and certain medical conditions (
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Chat With A Doctor And Get Dehydration Treatment For Just $35
Dehydration refers to a state where the body has lost more water than it has gained, and therefore normal functions such as circulation, respiration, and organ functions cannot work properly. If you dont have access to water, forget to drink, or your sense of thirst is impaired, you may lose more water than your take in, leaving your body dehydrated.
Although mild dehydration can cause uncomfortable symptoms and abnormal bodily functions, if treated promptly with adequate fluids, it will not cause serious harm.
If left untreated, mild dehydration will become severe dehydration, defined as a loss of 12% or more of bodily fluids. Severe dehydration is a serious medical issue that can significantly impact bodily functions and organs and may require hospitalization.
When To See A Doctor
If you are experiencing mild dehydration, you can likely treat it from home by drinking water and other hydrating beverages, without a visit to the doctors office. You should see your symptoms ease and resolve within a few hours.
If your dehydration symptoms do not resolve after a day, or worsen, its a good idea to make an appointment with your doctor. You should also call your doctor if you experience frequent vomiting for more than 24 hours or active diarrhea for more than 48 hours.
For young children and babies that show signs of dehydration, talk to your pediatrician to determine the best treatment. If your child has diarrhea lasting more than 24 hours, even if there are no signs of dehydration, make an appointment with your pediatrician.
Call an ambulance or go directly to the emergency room if your symptoms are accompanied by any of the following, as these can indicate severe dehydration or kidney complications and require immediate medical attention:
- A very high fever
- Lack of urination in the past 12 hours
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Effects On Blood Test Results Due To Dehydration
According to Sprint Medical, the following blood tests are affected when youre dehydrated.
Hematocrit is the volume of Red Blood Cells in the blood. Dehydration is the most common cause of a high hematocrit value because the volume of the fluid in the blood drops and the red blood cells per volume of blood rises, thus causing inaccurate results of the test. But with adequate intake of fluid, the hematocrit returns to normal.
Can Dehydration Be Prevented
The key to preventing dehydration is making sure that you get enough fluids:
- Drink enough water every day. Each person’s needs can be different, so ask your health care provider how much you should be drinking each day.
- If you are exercising in the heat and losing a lot of minerals in sweat, sports drinks can be helpful
- Avoid drinks that have sugar and caffeine
- Drink extra fluids when the weather is hot or when you are sick
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How K Health Can Help
If left untreated, dehydration can lead to severe consequences. Did you know you can get affordable primary care with the K Health app? Download K to check your symptoms, explore conditions and treatments, and if needed text with a doctor in minutes. K Healths AI-powered app is HIPAA compliant and based on 20 years of clinical data.
K Health articles are all written and reviewed by MDs, PhDs, NPs, or PharmDs and are for informational purposes only. This information does not constitute and should not be relied on for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.
Risk Factors And Complications
While dehydration can impact people of all ages and lifestyles, there are factors that put some people more at risk. Those at higher risk of becoming dehydrated should be vigilant about drinking plenty of water throughout the day. Risk factors for becoming dehydrated include your age, activity level, and environment.
Infants and young children are at a higher risk of dehydration due to diarrhea and vomiting diarrhea is very common in young children and their bodies can become dehydrated more quickly than adults. Because infants arent able to tell us outright when they feel thirsty, they rely on their caregivers to be attuned to their needs and the symptoms of dehydration.
On the other end of the spectrum, seniors are also at higher risk of dehydration, as the sense of thirst can diminish as we get older. With a decreased sense of thirst, its easier for seniors to forget to drink enough water throughout the day. To add to this, early signs of dehydrationsuch as fatigue, dizziness, or dry mouthmay go unnoticed at first because they can be side effects of other conditions or of natural aging.
Aside from age, the amount of activity you engage in and the climate you live in can also impact the amount of fluid loss your body undergoes each day. You may be at higher risk of dehydration if:
- You are an athlete
- You live in a high altitude
- You have a chronic illness such as diabetes, kidney disease, alcoholism, or an adrenal gland disorder
- Low blood volume
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