The human body is a complex machine that requires many nutrients to maintain proper function. Without water, the many systems, organs, and individual cells of the body would cease to operate effectively.
We acquire water through foods and beverages on a daily basis. Additionally, those who depend on caregivers or other people with their daily needs may also rely on them for their water intake. The failure to provide water to those who rely on help with hydration can be catastrophic and increase the risk of dehydration.
The Dangers of Dehydration
Dehydration is defined as the loss of fluid in the body. In order to prevent dehydration, your intake of fluids should match or exceed your loss of fluid. Height, weight, age, diet, medications, and activity level can all affect hydration needs. If you are active and losing fluids due to sweat, for example, you may need to drink more water than if you were sedentary.
Dehydration can be both acute or chronic and can be minor or severe. If you are feeling thirsty, for example, you could be dehydrated, but not in any immediate medical danger. More serious forms of dehydration can result in organ failure, permanent damage, and could even be life-threatening. Because every cell, organ, and physiological system in your body needs water, dehydration can affect every aspect of your physical and mental health.
Causes of Dehydration
According to Mayo Clinic, some frequent causes of dehydration include but are not limited to:
- Lack of access to food, water, or other sources of hydration
- Diarrhea or vomiting causes fluids to be expelled at an accelerated rate
- Over-exertion or excessive exercise
- Lack of appropriate fluid intake
- Side effects of medications
- Illness or medical conditions
- Hot weather
There are many reasons, in addition to the aforementioned, that dehydration can occur. Understanding the symptoms can help you stay hydrated and avoid the potentially negative health effects of dehydration.
If you are exhibiting any symptoms of dehydration, you should monitor the situation in case medical assistance is needed. While many cases of dehydration are minor and can be treated with the consumption of fluids, more serious conditions can arise if you do not take action. According to Mayo Clinic, symptoms of dehydration include:
- Feeling thirsty
- Dry skin or discoloration
- Difficulty concentrating or a decrease in mental function
- Urinating less frequently than usual
- Lack of sweat during physical activity
- Dark or discolored urine
- Rapid heartbeat
According to Mayo Clinic, elderly adults especially need to be hydrated because they naturally have a lower water volume in their body, and the medications they take may make them more dehydrated. In these cases, it is essential that caregivers and guardians take note of any symptoms and act accordingly. Caregivers and guardians may also be responsible for providing the water and food necessary for proper hydration. Failure to provide water can be very dangerous for an independent individual.
While everyone is potentially at risk for dehydration, there are risk factors that may increase the likelihood of dehydration. Some older adults, for example, depend on caregivers for their daily needs, health, and well-being. This can increase the chances of dehydration because another party is responsible for monitoring water and fluid intake.
There are additionally health conditions that affect hydration, such as diabetes, kidney diseases, and other ailments. Medications and diet can also change the way the body absorbs and dispels water, sometimes putting a person at a higher risk. It is up to each person, or their caregivers, to understand their specific risks.
Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect
Some older adults or those dependent on others choose to live in nursing homes and assisted living facilities. This can be a great option as these facilities’ staff are trained to provide specialized health services around the clock.
Unfortunately, sometimes abuse and neglect occur. This can affect hydration if negligence or abuse results in a failure to provide water. The Nursing Home Reform Act of 1987 is a federal law requiring assisted living facilities to provide a certain standard of care for their residents. Negligence and abuse, such as allowing a resident to suffer injuries from dehydration, is in direct violation of this law and could be grounds for legal action against responsible parties.
Dehydration is a very serious condition that can cause a number of other health issues throughout the body. If you or someone you love suffered from dehydration and another party was responsible, you could be wondering if there is anything you can do. Victims who become dehydrated because of nursing home staff’s negligence or abuse might be eligible for financial compensation.
Call (800) 842-6336 to speak with a team member at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm and learn more about your legal options.