Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Brain Malfunction Explains Dehydration In Elderly

Date:
December 18, 2007
Source:
Howard Florey Institute
Summary:
Scientists have warned that elderly people are at risk of becoming dehydrated because their brains underestimate how much water they need to drink to rehydrate. Dehydration occurs when the body does not have enough water and this can happen rapidly in extreme heat or through exercise. Symptoms of dehydration can include headaches, lethargy and hallucinations. In extreme cases, dehydration may result in death.

As Australia faces another hot, dry summer, scientists from Melbourne's Howard Florey Institute have warned that elderly people are at risk of becoming dehydrated because their brains underestimate how much water they need to drink to rehydrate.

Related Articles


Dehydration occurs when the body does not have enough water and this can happen rapidly in extreme heat or through exercise. Symptoms of dehydration can include headaches, lethargy and hallucinations. In extreme cases, dehydration may result in death.

Florey researchers Dr Michael Farrell, A/Prof Gary Egan and Prof Derek Denton discovered that a region in the brain called the mid cingulate cortex predicts how much water a person needs, but this region malfunctions in older people.

Dr Farrell said they infused old (age 65 to 74) and young (age 21 to 30) research participants with salty water to make them thirsty and then allowed them to drink as much water as they wanted.

"Although all participants had the same level of thirst, the older people only drank half as much water as the younger subjects," Dr Farrell said.

"Using PET imaging we found in the older people, the mid cingulate cortex was 'turned off' much earlier by drinking small volumes."

"This discovery helps explain why the elderly can become easily dehydrated," he said.

“These are self-sensations that have very strong motivational power,” said co-author Peter T. Fox, M.D., professor and director of the Research Imaging Center at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.

The August 2003 European heatwave claimed around 52,000 lives through dehydration and other causes* -- many of these were older people. France suffered the worst losses, with 14,802 people dying from the heatwave.

As climate change continues to be a hot global issue, the health implications for the elderly from rising summer temperatures add to this concern.

Dr Farrell recommended that older people ensure they drink enough water during hot weather.

"Adults should drink about eight glasses of water per day to prevent dehydration, and physically active people may need to drink more," Dr Farrell said.

This study was a collaboration between the Florey and the Research Imaging Center at the University of Texas, where the PET imaging of the subjects was conducted. This research will be published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Studies to further investigate the brain's thirst mechanisms are now being conducted.

* Source: Earth Policy Institute.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Howard Florey Institute. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Howard Florey Institute. "Brain Malfunction Explains Dehydration In Elderly." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 December 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/12/071217192400.htm>.
Howard Florey Institute. (2007, December 18). Brain Malfunction Explains Dehydration In Elderly. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/12/071217192400.htm
Howard Florey Institute. "Brain Malfunction Explains Dehydration In Elderly." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/12/071217192400.htm (accessed October 24, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Friday, October 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

IKEA Desk Converts From Standing to Sitting With One Button

IKEA Desk Converts From Standing to Sitting With One Button

Buzz60 (Oct. 24, 2014) IKEA is out with a new convertible desk that can convert from a sitting desk to a standing one with just the push of a button. Jen Markham explains. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Protective Suits Being Made in China

Ebola Protective Suits Being Made in China

AFP (Oct. 24, 2014) A factory in China is busy making Ebola protective suits for healthcare workers and others fighting the spread of the virus. Duration: 00:38 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
WHO: Millions of Ebola Vaccine Doses by 2015

WHO: Millions of Ebola Vaccine Doses by 2015

AP (Oct. 24, 2014) The World Health Organization said on Friday that millions of doses of two experimental Ebola vaccines could be ready for use in 2015 and five more experimental vaccines would start being tested in March. (Oct. 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Doctor in NYC Quarantined With Ebola

Doctor in NYC Quarantined With Ebola

AP (Oct. 24, 2014) An emergency room doctor who recently returned to the city after treating Ebola patients in West Africa has tested positive for the virus. He's quarantined in a hospital. (Oct. 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins