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How Dehydration Affects Your Heart and Colon

Dehydration can affect your heart and colon. Left unaddressed, dehydration can cause serious problems in these organs. While anyone can become dehydrated, it is most dangerous for young children and older adults, especially those with other health problems.

Dehydration is a state where your body does not have enough fluid to function well. It occurs when your body loses more fluid than you take in. Common causes of dehydration in children include severe vomiting or diarrhea that lasts a long time. Older adults naturally have less water in their bodies, and this makes older adults more prone to dehydration. Even minor conditions, such as a lung or bladder infection, can lead to dehydration in older people.

Dehydration and Your Heart

Plasma is the liquid portion of blood. Water makes up about 92 percent of plasma, according to the American Red Cross. Dehydration causes you to lose blood volume, which means there is less blood flowing through your blood vessels. To compensate for this lower volume of blood, your heart beats faster. This increases your pulse and can cause you to experience palpitations, which means that it feels like your heart is beating too fast, skipping a beat, or fluttering.

Your muscles, including your heart muscles, are about 79 percent water. When muscles lose fluid due to dehydration, they have to work harder to function. This means dehydration causes your heart muscles to work harder than normal. The extra work is hard on your heart, especially if it goes on for a long time.

Dehydration Affects Your Colon

Dehydration can also affect your colon, which is the last segment of your digestive tract. Your colon absorbs more than a liter of fluid each day and this fluid helps stool move through your colon. Without this fluid, stool hardens to cause constipation.

Fluid moves in and out of your colon, depending on how much fluid the rest of your body needs. When you are dehydrated, your body pulls fluid from your colon to use elsewhere. This means there may not be enough fluid to soften your stool.

While vomiting and diarrhea can cause dehydration, other problems may lead to fluid loss. Imaging tests can help your doctor determine the source of your dehydration, and can help your doctor check for problems associated with dehydration. To learn more, contact Virtual Imaging, Inc. Imaging Center at 770-730-0119.