26/12/2022 / Health and Fitness

Dehydration - Causes, Signs and Symptoms, Treatment, and More

Dehydration is a serious issue and can lead to severe complications. Know the meaning of dehydration, along with its causes, signs, treatment, and prevention.

Know Everything About Dehydration - Causes, Symptoms,Treatment and more
Keerthana A PKeerthana A P
Keerthana A P
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Dehydration is the lack of enough water in your body. It is serious as it can result in coma or death in extreme cases.

Warm weather is famous for the lovely drizzle and heartwarming lemonade but aren't we forgetting something important? It's dehydration! Dehydration is the lack of body fluids, especially in your cells and blood vessels. Even as little as 1.5% less water, can lead to serious issues in your body's metabolism. The symptoms of dehydration can be as simple as a headache or even extreme heat stroke or death. In this article, you would know the causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatments for dehydration. 

Causes of Dehydration

Dehydration can occur due to a variety of reasons. Here are the common causes of dehydration.

Causes of Dehydration
  • Sweating too much (for example, workouts in hot weather)

  • Vomiting or diarrhoea

  • Fever

  • Not having fluids due to lethargy or illness

  • Urinating too much (due to diabetes or medicines like diuretics )

Elders and also people with diseases like diabetes are at higher risk of dehydration. 

Symptoms of Dehydration 

Symptoms of Dehydration

Here are the symptoms of mild dehydration, 

  • Thirst

  • Dry or sticky mouth

  • Yellow coloured urine

  • Not urinating much

If your dehydration levels from mild to moderate levels, you may have symptoms like, 

  • Dry, cool skin

  • Headache

  • Muscle cramps

When the dehydration levels reach alarming and dangerous ranges, you would experience symptoms like, 

  • Dark yellow or amber-coloured urine

  • Dry, shrivelled skin

  • Irritability or confusion

  • Dizziness or lightheadedness

  • Rapid heartbeat

  • Rapid breathing

  • Listlessness

  • Shock (less blood flow through the body)

  • Sunken eyes

  • Unconsciousness or delirium

Are hypovolemia and dehydration the same?

Physiologically, hypovolemia is a balanced loss of sodium/potassium salts and water, which causes low extracellular fluid volume (volume depletion). Hypovolemia can occur due to a decrease in blood volume, kidney issues, loss of body sodium, consequent intravascular water, osmotic diuresis, overuse of pharmacologic diuretics, impaired response to hormones controlling salt and water balance, gastrointestinal losses, skin losses, respiratory losses, build-up of fluid in the empty spaces of the body due to acute pancreatitis, intestinal obstruction, increase in vascular permeability and hypoalbuminemia. 

On the other hand, dehydration is the fluid loss that is due to water loss that contains little or no salt (sodium or potassium). In other words, dehydration is the lack of total body water with a disruption of metabolic processes. Dehydration occurs when free water loss exceeds free water intake. The causes usually are strenuous exercise, fever, diseases (hyperglycaemia and diarrhoea), high temperature, drug intake and immersion diuresis. 

Complications of Dehydration

If the dehydrated person is not attended to on time, he/she can, 

  • Develop permanent brain damage 

  • Have seizures 

  • Succumb to death 

Diagnosis of Dehydration 

Dehydration can be diagnosed by the healthcare provider both by physical signs and lab tests. Some of the diagnostic methods are, 

  • Noting the drop in blood pressure or rapid heart rate

  • Checking for the fingertip colour (white colour indicates dehydration)

  • Pulling skin to look the elasticity

  • Blood tests say kidney functions

  • Urine tests and blood sugar tests

Treatment of Dehydration

For treating dehydration, you can try the following methods,

Treatment of Dehydration
  • Sip water or suck on ice cubes.

  • Drink water or sports drinks that contain electrolytes.

  • Stay away from salt tablets as they can cause serious complications.

  • Ask your doctor what you should eat if you have diarrhoea.

  • For more severe dehydration or emergencies, you may need to stay in a hospital and receive fluid through a vein (IV). 

Prevention of Dehydration

Here are some of the tips that can help you in preventing dehydration, 

  • Drink plenty of water, especially during hot weather and after workouts. 

  • Carefully monitor older adults and children for their water consumption.

  •  If you are suffering from a fever, vomiting or diarrhoea, you should drink more water than usual.

  • If your child is vomiting or has diarrhoea, give extra water or oral rehydration drinks at the first signs of illness.

  •  If you are having mild to moderate dehydration symptoms even after having fluids, consider seeking professional help.

  • If you have influenza, bronchitis or bladder infections, drink more water than usual. 

When to Consult a Doctor for Dehydration

You should call a medical professional or the local emergency number if the patient has,

  • Loss of consciousness

  • Confusions or seizures

  • Fever over 102°F 

  • Rapid pulse

  • Rapid breathing

  • Worsening symptoms despite treatments

What Does Water Do for Your Body? 

Water is the most important component of your body as it not only constitutes but also regulates various metabolic functions. Your body has around 55% to 78% of water (newborn babies usually have more than 70%). Your brain has around 73% water, your heart has more than 70% water, your bones have 31% water, muscles have around 79%, your lungs have 83% and the skin has 64%. Our whole body is filled with water but what are their functions? Learn about the functions of water below, 

Water is very important to your body as it performs so many functions like, 

  • Aiding in digestion and getting rid of waste

  • Lubricating your joints them

  • Make saliva for digestion and ingestion

  • Balancing the body's chemicals with hormones and neurotransmitters

  • Delivering oxygen all over your body

  • Cushioning your bones 

  • Regulating your body temperature 

  • Absorbs shocks, thereby protecting the brain and spinal cord

From this, you can understand the essence of water in maintaining your health and well-being. The first sign of your body lacking water is thirst, so drinking water right away would save your body from various damages. 

Take-Home Points

  • Dehydration is the lack of water in your body for performing all the necessary metabolic functions. 

  • Water does various important functions like maintaining temperature, excreting wastes, protecting sensitive organs and cushioning joints. 

  • Headaches, nausea, vomiting, fever, rapid heartbeat and irregular breathing are some of the symptoms of dehydration. 


FAQ on What Is Dehydration?

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