Symptoms of Dehydration
“The first and most easily felt symptom of dehydration is thirst. If dehydration continues without countermeasures, the body begins to compensate for the loss of fluid by increasing heart rate and blood pressure to maintain adequate blood flow to organs,” explains James Mapes, a James City County Firefighter and Busch Gardens Williamsburg EMT.
Common symptoms of dehydration include:
- A dry or sticky mouth
- Decreased or no urine output
- Concentrated, dark colored urine
- Skin that doesn’t bounce back quickly when pinched
More severe symptoms include:
The simplest way to prevent dehydration is by drinking plenty of water. Mayo Clinic recommends drinking at least 125 oz. daily for men and 91 oz. daily for women.
If you’re exercising or will be outside in the heat, especially children and the elderly, it is recommended to increase your daily water intake.
When is an IV Needed for Dehydration?
Getting an IV for dehydration is the fastest and most efficient way to replace fluids in the body, though not everyone who is dehydrated needs to seek medical treatment for an IV.
Healthcare providers typically use IV therapy to treat someone in the advanced stages of dehydration who needs fluids replaced immediately, like patients who are fainting or experiencing symptoms of heat stroke.
Mapes says, “It may take up to an hour for your body to process a liter of water through the bloodstream whereas an IV catheter will deliver fluid directly in the vein immediately.”
Why are Athletes Using IV Therapy?
Over the years, you may have noticed an increase in less-conventional uses of IV therapy outside of hospitals, such as vitamin infusions, hangover ‘cures’, and athletics. IV therapy is often seen in professional sports as a way to quickly hydrate athletes before and during games, as dehydration is linked to a decline in athletic performance.
A 2011 survey of all 32 National Football League (NFL) teams found that 75% (24 of 32) of teams utilized IV infusion of fluids for prehydration in at least some otherwise healthy individuals. The athletic trainers’ responses indicate that they commonly use intravenous fluids before games to prevent muscle cramps (23/24) and 19 of 27 trainers believe that intravenous fluids is either extremely helpful or very helpful in preventing muscle cramps.
However, 48% of the head athletic trainers who had used pregame hyperhydration with intravenous fluid in the past reported complications.
Do the Benefits Outweigh the Risks?
Whether or not athletes are allowed to use IVs as a method of hydration seems to vary across professional sports. But medical professionals have voiced concerns about if the benefits truly outweighed the risks.
An IV infiltration is just one form of IV failure that can occur during infusions. Infiltration can be caused in a few ways, including the IV being unintentionally pulled out of place.
It’s important to remember that receiving an IV is a medical procedure that comes with benefits and risks. A medical professional can help you understand the potential risks and benefits.
Learn about more reasons you might need IV therapy.