Long-Term Care

Trainer’s tip: Signs and symptoms of dehydration

LTC Nursing Assistant Trainer, April 5, 2012

Signs and symptoms of dehydration include:

  • Sunken cheeks or eyeballs
  • Dry, brown tongue and mucous membranes
  • Furrows or lines in tongue
  • Dry, inelastic skin
  • Poor skin turgor (check forehead or over the sternum in the elderly)
  • Weight loss
  • Concentrated urine
  • Constipation and impaction
  • Nausea and anorexia
  • Increased time for veins to refill
  • Abnormal laboratory values (elevated hemoglobin/hematocrit, potassium, chloride, sodium, albumin, transferrin, BUN, urine specific gravity)
  • Greater than three-pound weight loss within seven days
  • Delusions, dizziness, delirium
  • Unsteady gait
  • Headache
  • Flushed appearance

Sadly, by the time signs and symptoms appear, most residents are already dehydrated, and aggressive interventions are essential.

This is an excerpt from the HCPro book, The Long-Term Care Nursing Desk Reference, Second Edition, by Barbara Acello, MS, RN.

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