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Watch for DEHYDRATION during this cold/flu season

With cold and flu numbers continuing to be unusually high, plus an increase in patients with gastroenteritis (stomach flu), local Centra Care physicians are seeing more cases of dehydration as a complication of another illness.

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There are all levels of dehydration, but when it’s severe, dehydration is a life-threatening emergency.

Dehydration can be caused by not drinking enough fluids or by losing too much fluid through sweating, fever, vomiting or diarrhea.

In sick children, dehydration is often caused by a refusal to eat or drink.  But this is especially dangerous because infants and children are more likely to become dehydrated because they weigh less and their bodies turn over water and electrolytes more quickly.  Elderly and people with illnesses are also at higher risk.

Symptoms include:

  • Dry mouth
  • Lethargy
  • Low urine output
  • No tears
  • Sunken eyes

For mild cases of dehydration, drinking fluids is usually enough.  Drink small amounts often, rather than forcing a large amount of fluid at one time.  Water, electrolyte solutions or sports drinks are all acceptable options, but remember, sports drinks can contain a lot of sugar, which can cause or worsen diarrhea.

For moderate to severe dehydration, intravenous fluids may be required.

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