Healthy Eating

Dehydration; when there is water scarcity

Have you ever driven a car and suddenly, the radiator tank is empty?

Explosion, the bonnet is smoking, engine is overheating, looks like the car is about to be caught in flames. What happened?

Dehydration is a common word used to describe the shortage of water in any moving system. Many engines including our biological engine (the body) need water for normal function.

Dehydration happens when the body doesn’t have as much water as it needs. Dehydration ranges from mild to moderate to severe, depending on how much fluid is missing from the body.


Anyone may become dehydrated, but the condition is especially dangerous for young children and older adults.

Sometimes dehydration occurs for simple reasons: You didn’t drink enough water because you were busy or waiting for the feeling of thirst, or you were sick or because you lack access to safe drinking water.

Other causes of Dehydration include:

  • Diarrhoea, vomiting; diarrhoea that comes suddenly and violently — can cause a tremendous loss of water and electrolytes in a very short time. When vomiting happens alongside with diarrhoea an even more severe dehydration happens in split seconds.
  • Fever; As body temperature increases, the more there is insufficient fluid in the body system. When you add fever, diarrhoea and vomiting together, it is a more catastrophic situation
  • Excessive sweating. Hot, humid weather increases the rate of sweating and the amount of fluid loss. Doing a Vigorous activity in a hot weather and not replacing fluids as you go along, makes dehydration inevitable.
  • Increased urination.This may be due to undiagnosed or uncontrolled diabetes. Certain medications, such as diuretics and some blood pressure medications, also can lead to dehydration, generally because they cause frequent urination.


Thirst is not always a reliable early indicator of the body’s need for water. Many people, particularly older adults, don’t feel thirsty until they are already dehydrated. It becomes important to deliberately increase water intake especially during the hot weather or times of ill health.

Symptoms of dehydration differ by age:

Infant or young child

  • Dry mouth and tongue
  • No tears when crying
  • No wet diapers for three hours
  • Sunken eyes, cheeks
  • Sunken soft spot on top of skull
  • Listlessness or irritability


  • Extreme thirst
  • Less frequent urination
  • Dark-coloured urine
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion


Dehydration can lead to serious complications:

  • Heat injury.Shortage of fluid in the body system especially during a hot weather or periods of heavy perspiration can lead a heat injury, ranging in severity from mild heat cramps to heat exhaustion or potentially life-threatening heatstroke.
  • Urinary and kidney problems.Prolonged or repeated bouts of dehydration can cause urinary tract infections, kidney stones and even kidney failure.
  • Electrolytes — such as potassium and sodium — help carry electrical signals from cell to cell. An imbalance in these electrolytes can lead to involuntary muscle contractions and sometimes a loss of consciousness.
  • Low blood volume shock.This is one of the most serious complications of dehydration. Sometimes, it is life-threatening and should be avoided. Severe dehydration will bring about a low blood volume, which causes a drop in blood pressure and a drop in the amount of oxygen in the body.

Things to Note

  1. Take the issue of dehydration serious, develop routine habits of taking in fluids, without necessarily waiting for the feeling thirst especially in hot weather
  2. In cases of Diarrhoea or vomiting, ensure prompt intervention especially in children. The World Health Organization (WHO), advocates rehydration using oral salts popularly known as Oral Rehydration Solution (ORS).

 How to prepare ORS:


– 6 level teaspoons of sugar or 10cubes of sugar.

– Half teaspoon of salt

– 1 litre of warm water or potable water (previously boiled and has been allowed to cool)

– A clean drinking bottle


– Ensure that all your utensils are properly washed and clean.

– Get the above into a large cup and stir properly.

– Pour into a bottle to store.

– Drink this solution as often as you can throughout the day.

**This should be prepared daily as you should never keep the mixture overnight. 

**There are already made ORS found in retail stores as well.

3. Before you begin a strenuous exercise hydrate properly or during vigorous exercise, have a regular fluid replacement habit.

4. Consistently monitor the colour and concentration of your urine, producing lots of clear, dilute urine is a good indication that you are well-hydrated.

5. Visit a doctor if you have had diarrhoea for 24 hours or more

6. Share with friends and colleagues what you just learnt

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Omafuvwe Erhemute
Omafuvwe Erhemute is a beautiful Nurse whose dream is to create a health standard focused on preventive measures rather than curative. she is passionate about Nutrition and Dietetics and hopes to influence healthy eating by her writings. She loves cooking and eating.

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