Nurse’s Blog – Dehydration

Nurse’s Blog – Dehydration

By PARISH NURSE, Pat Woerheide, R.N.

We have been having serious heat waves this spring and summer. Because of this weather, dehydration is a health concern. Infants, young children, and senior citizens are at increased risk because they frequently don’t ask for increased fluids or forget to drink. Those who are limited in ambulation or are in nursing homes are particularly vulnerable and aging produces a decreased ability to recognize hunger or thirst.  Research has shown that up to 50% of seniors admitted to emergency departments are found to have some level of dehydration which decreases normal body function. People with chronic illnesses or who are taking diuretics are also at risk.

You know that every person should at least drink 5 to 8 glasses of liquid each day under normal conditions and also eat well to get more fluid from foods.  Exercising and hot weather requires an even greater fluid intake! You should carry a water container and sip frequently when engaged in strenuous exercise so that you drink up to a liter of fluid each hour. A liter is about 34 fluid ounces. Remember, don’t gulp liquids during exercise and seek medical help if you develop severe symptoms of dehydration

Don’t wait to feel thirsty in hot weather to drink.  Here is a review of the symptoms of dehydration, but I hope you will be sensitive to fluid needs and avoid them.

These are the first signs of dehydration; treat by sipping 16 ounces of water slowly.

  • Thirst with dry mouth or tongue
  • Decreased amounts of urine or dark yellow urine, no wet diapers in infants for three hours
  • Mild muscle cramping in limbs or nausea
  • Headaches
  • Crying with few or no tears
  • Mild weakness or confusion
  • Mild drowsiness or irritability

The following are serious signs of dehydration and should be treated in an emergency medical setting.

  • Low blood pressure
  • Convulsions
  • Severe cramping in arms and legs, back and stomach
  • Abdominal bloating
  • Racing pulse
  • Sunken eyes
  • Wrinkled skin when pinched that does not spring back to normal positioning
  • Shortness of Breath

*information supporting this newsletter although not quoted,  is from the Center for Disease Control at and The Mayo clinic web site at

Pat Woerheide RN