Hydration Measurement and Monitoring

Water makes up approximately 63% of the total body mass in adults, 65% in children and 70% in infants. It is the medium of circulatory function, biochemical reaction, metabolism, substrate transport across cellular membranes, temperature regulation and numerous other physiological processes. As such, it is the most essential body nutrient, after oxygen.

Typical daily fluid intake and output for a healthy 70 kg (154 lb) person is about 2.4 liters (5.1 Pints). Humans can not reduce water losses from the body to less than about half this amount per day because water is involuntarily lost through the skin, respiration, feces, and a minimum daily urine volume of about 0.4 liters. Sweating, governed by the body's need for temperature regulation, represents an additional loss that can be as much as 3.5 liters per hour during strenuous exercise. As a result, though human beings can survive for weeks without food, they die within days without water.

The sensation of thirst becomes apparent when water loss approaches 1%-2% of total body mass (approximately 3.0 lbs for a 150 lb person). It follows, therefore, that a person is already mildly dehydrated by the time they feel thirsty. As dehydration progresses, symptoms become increasingly severe and susceptibility to dehydration-related conditions, such as heat exhaustion, and heat stroke, escalate. Signs and symptoms of mild dehydration (2-4% loss of body mass) include the initial onset of thirst, dry mucous membranes, mild fatigue, loss of appetite, headaches, loss of concentration, irritability, decreased blood pressure (hypotension), and dizziness or fainting when standing up (due to orthostatic hypotension). Moderate dehydration (4-7% loss of body mass) may result in lethargy or extreme sleepiness, nausea, confusion, tingling in the limbs (paresthesia), heat cramps, seizures, fainting and significant decreases in aerobic power and endurance. With severe dehydration (8-10% loss of body mass), muscles may become spastic, skin may shrivel and wrinkle, vision may dim, urination may become painful, delirium may begin and recovery without assistance may be impossible. A body weight loss greater than 10-12% is usually fatal.

Dehydration, and dehydration-related conditions are extremely common and the morbidity and mortality associated with them are an enormous burden to the healthcare system and to society. However, they are, by their nature, preventable, and, if detected early, extremely easy to treat.

A dependable method for accurately monitoring changes in hydration status that has the low cost, convenience and practicality necessary for widespread use currently does not exist. Methods that are available are either indirect and unreliable, or dependent on blood and urine tests that are invasive, complex and frequently costly.

Cantimer intends to introduce a family of hand-held devices, for both medical and consumer use that provide immediate and objective feedback on changes in an individual's state of hydration - from a tiny drop of saliva - within a matter in about a minute. The Company is currently engaged in testing its devices in a series of third party clinical studies covering ranges of dehydration from 0-7% of total body mass.

Population groups that are particularly susceptible to dehydration include firefighters, military personnel, and athletes (attributable to uncompensated sweat losses as a result of physical exertion), infants (attributable to vomiting and diarrhea as a result of gastro-intestinal disorders), the elderly (attributable to chronic dehydration as a result of inadequate fluid consumption) and those that suffer from chronic illnesses such as asthma and diabetes. Risk also escalates as a result of common medical conditions (such as influenza), environmental conditions (such as heat waves), the use of medications (such as diuretics), and with the simple process of aging.

Further Reading