Effects of Dehydration during Fever and Other Health Conditions
We often undermine the effects of dehydration on our body. Our body loses water in distinct forms, like sweat, excretion and others. A normal adult can become dehydrated if they lose as little as 3% of body water, leading to poor memory and attention. In fact, studies report just 1-2% dehydration impairs memory skills and cognitive capabilities. Further fluid deficit causes headaches, irritability, sleepiness, impairs muscle endurance and decreases muscle strength.
Fluid depletion of over 8% can be fatal.
Fluid balance is critical in health and disease and its daily management is required even when a healthy individual experiences stress, for example, during intense exercise, while suffering from acute or chronic diseases, or related complications. Proper management of fluid balance is also very important among individuals who are very young or very old, who are dealing with cognition disorders, and even common conditions such as obesity or hypertension.
When facing common signs of illnesses such as viral fever or flu, the body loses water rapidly. According to the American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition (ASPEN), an adult with 102-degree fever, or higher, loses an extra ~900 ml of body water every 24 hours due to sweating, and another ~90ml from coughing and heavy breathing. This deficit may get further aggravated because of nausea, vomiting and/ or diarrhea and inadequate fluid intake due to poor appetite. In such conditions, respiratory secretions may thicken and may be difficult to clear from lungs, which may lead to pneumonia.
Hydration as the First Step to Recovery Against Illnesses
During any sort of illness, dehydration and its associated challenges remain a major risk to our body. During such times, it becomes imperative to prioritize basic self-care, including drinking adequate fluids, eating balanced meals, and taking breaks from long hours of work. We are advised to intake a variety of fluid frequently, even when not thirsty, to keep our health and immunity in good shape. In fact, guidelines set by ASPEN assert hydration and nourishment as a key necessity to enable our body to fight against infectious diseases and illnesses. They cite hydration as an essential part of a patient’s medical treatment for recovery from illness such as Covid-19 as well and recommend drinking water or clear liquid fluids every hour, between 60 and 120 millilitres (or two to four ounces) of fluid in 15-minute intervals.
Consuming the Right Fluids
Dehydration causes water and electrolyte imbalance in the body, which in turn, affects how our body functions. To compensate for the loss of water from the body, the optimal liquids to take are clear liquid beverages with calories & protein, and oral rehydration solutions. Oral rehydration solutions provide the calories, essential electrolytes, and minerals that the body needs to operate. To cope up with the loss of water and electrolytes in the body, it is important that individuals take the right source of electrolyte and energy fluids, in addition to home-made drinks to remain hydrated and healthy. Ready-to-drink electrolyte and energy fluids provide improved taste and convenience, as well as the right balance of fluid and electrolytes.
In this day and age, it is of utmost importance for us to remain on top of our health and perform our parts in helping India fight against deadly diseases. At a time when health is of utmost priority, all of us must remind ourselves to stay active, safe, and hydrated.