Digestive Health

Updated 02 October 2015

Who is at risk of dehydration?

Young children and older people are at greater risk of dehydration, as loss of electrolytes occurs more rapidly in these two groups of people.

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Children's bodies have a higher percentage of water than those of adults, their metabolic rates are higher and they are at greater risk of infections that cause vomiting and diarrhoea. They are also dependent on others to feed them and give them water.

Older people may have a decreased thirst sensation, their kidneys may not work as efficiently or they may have neurological conditions such as a stroke or Alzheimer's disease, which can make it difficult for them to convey their needs to a caregiver. Incontinence problems may also lead elderly people to limit their intake of water.

Sports people who partake in strenuous sporting activities are also at risk of dehydration, particularly in very hot conditions.

 

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Dr. Estelle Wilken is a Senior Specialist in Internal Medicine and Gastroenterology at Tygerberg Hospital. She obtained her MBChB in 1976, her MMed (Int) in 1991 and her gastroenterology registration in 1995.

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