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Dehydration of the body can be very dangerous. In most cases, the average adult will need to take in between 2 to 3 quarts of liquid from fluids or foods to keep his/her body from dehydrating. Dehydration results when the body has lost an excess of fluids due to illness, extreme heat, over-exertion, or medication. Those most susceptible to dehydration are the very young and very old, but it strikes people of all ages during the situations given above. Although many people do not take dehydration seriously, it can lead to shock or be fatal if not properly treated immediately. The symptoms of severe dehydration include dry mouth, coated tongue, thick saliva, lethargy, irritability, paleness, low urine output, sunken eyeballs, and a pinched look in the face.

Illnesses that cause vomiting or diarrhea can quickly lead to dehydration. For an adult, if these conditions exist for more than 24 hours, it is quite likely that dehydration has occurred. An infant under 3 months of age who has had three large loose bowel movements within 6 hours or who has thrown up all their feedings for a 6-hour period could be dehydrated. In both cases, a doctor should be called and will probably want to see the adult or baby. It is always wise to seek medical advice when a child or adult is unable to replace lost fluids due to vomiting or diarrhea. In this case, the only way the fluid needed by the body can be replaced is intravenously. If the excessive water loss is caused from sweating in high heat or strenuous physical activity in very hot weather, drink a salted water mixture. To make this mixture, you will need to mix one teaspoon of salt with one quart of water. Often, you will also have muscle cramps with this type of dehydration. Drinking the salt water will help relieve these as well. Make sure that the person who is dehydrated continues to drink plain water after drinking the salt water. He/she can also safely drink tea, juice, and other liquids, but do not allow the person to drink alcoholic beverages. When the dehydration is caused by medication such as a diuretic, you will need to talk with your doctor about changing the way you take your pills during warmer weather.

Any time a child is dehydrated, he/she should be given clear liquids, weak tea, broth, popsicles, gelatin desserts, or half-strength skim milk. An infant on formula should be given half-strength formula with water. If the infant is breast fed, no change is necessary. Drinks such as Gatorade are excellent for dehydration. But talk to your doctor before giving this to infants for this problem. During the summer months when you are traveling long distances, try to drink water or Gatorade. Sodas and coffee are fine to drink when traveling if you mix them with regenerating fluids such as the two given above. Pay special attention to children or any elderly passengers when they travel long distances with you. Since most passengers tend to sleep during this type of travel, it is easy for them to dehydrate without anyone being aware. Always take dehydration seriously and act on it as quickly as possible. By the time most people are showing the symptoms of this illness, they are already in serious trouble.