The Science of Dehydration

What is Dehydration?

To function correctly and remain healthy, our body requires the correct internal balance of water and electrolytes.

Every day our body loses fluid and electrolytes via urine, sweat, saliva, and other bodily fluids. Usually, a normal, healthy diet will serve to replace lost electrolytes and fluid.

Certain conditions such as vomiting and diarrhoea, heavy sweating, or lack of food and fluid intake can lead to inadequate levels of fluid and electrolytes within our bodies. This is called dehydration..

We lose fluid and electrolytes via four major mechanisms

  1. Vomiting
  2. Diarrhoea
  3. Sweat
  4. Urine

We only have to lose as little as 2% of our body weight rapidly and signs of dehydration will become apparent.

The Function of Water and Electrolytes

Water accounts for a large percentage of our total body weight: 70% in infants, 60% in men, 55% in women and 45% in the older population (> 65 years of age).

  • Water has a number of important functions in the body:
    • Helps to maintain body temperature
    • Assist with digestion
    • Lubricates the tissues and joints

Electrolytes (such as sodium, potassium and chloride) are dissolved in the water in our body.

  • Electrolytes:
    • Help the body retain fluid
    • Are essential for nerve and muscle function
  • We usually consume electrolytes in our food
  • The amount of water and electrolytes in the body at any one time is controlled by how much fluid we consume and how much fluid we lose daily
  • Water and electrolytes move around the body constantly to maintain the correct balance. This allows the body to perform normal functions correctly

We consume fluid and electrolytes through the food and water we consume every day.

We lose fluids through online pharmacy europe sweat, urine, vomiting and diarrhoea.

Causes of Dehydration

Dehydration is commonly caused by:

  • Heat- Due to hot or dry conditions
  • Vomiting & Diarrhoea- Due to vomiting and or diarrhoea
  • Sports- Due to vigorous exercise
  • Travel- Due to traveller’s diarrhoea / flight travel /humidity
  • Alcohol- Due to excessive alcohol consumption
  • OH&S- Due to heat and excessive exercise in the workplace
  • Dehydration can also be caused by a lack of food or fluid intake during times of illness.

Dehydration Tips

1 Learn to recognise the signs and symptoms of dehydration in you and your children
2 Aim to drink 8-10 cups of fluid a day – water is a great option
3 When sickness strikes offer fluid replacement immediately
4 Avoid sugary drinks, they can impede the rehydration process (and if you’re suffering from diarrhoea can make it worse)
5 Consider your environment – hot and dry conditions can increase the chance of dehydration
6 Remember hydration is important before, during and after exercise
7 The aim is not to wait until you’re dehydrated and treat it – the aim is where possible to minimise the risk of dehydration by monitoring your hydration status and electrolyte balance
8 Small sips regularly.  Even if you’re really thirsty drinking Hydralyte slowly at regular intervals will help you absorb the electrolytes and rehydrate more efficiently
9 If you’ve been drinking alcohol a glass or two of Hydralyte before you go to bed will replace water & electrolytes lost through the diuretic effect …try it and minimise the effects of dehydration in the morning
10 Hydralyte Ice blocks are well tolerated by nauseous patients – what’s more, children think of them more as a treat than a medicine


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