Diagnosing Dehydration in the Elderly

A common medical problem that elderly people in Connecticut sometimes suffer from is dehydration. Elderly people may be more prone to suffering from dehydration for several reasons. They may have lower thirst sensations because of diabetes, kidney issues, medications and simply forgetting to eat or drink regularly.

Dehydration can be very serious when it happens. People who suffer from it may experience a range of symptoms from dizziness to heat stroke. A person who is dehydrated may show several signs of the condition, including less plumpness of the skin, increased fatigue, dry mouth, increased thirst and dry skin.

There are several ways a doctor can test for dehydration. People who are dehydrated will have higher concentrations of certain minerals in their blood. A study shows that urine tests are not always accurate measures of dehydration in the elderly, however. The study, conducted at East Anglia University in the United Kingdom, involved 383 people over the age of 65. The researchers compared blood tests and urine tests to see if the two agreed regarding the dehydration of the patients. The results often did not. The problem is that the accuracy of urine tests depends on the person’s kidneys functioning properly. When the kidneys do not, the urine tests may not be accurate.

A doctor who suspects that an elderly patient may be dehydrated may want to keep in mind that a urine test may not provide accurate results. The doctor may thus want to choose a blood test combined with physical indicators in order to make an accurate diagnosis. A failure to use the proper procedures for making a correct diagnosis that to a patient being harmed could be compensable medical negligence.