OverviewKey FactsSymptomsCausesTypesRisk factorsDiagnosisCelebs affectedPreventionSpecialist to visitTreatmentHome-careComplicationsAlternatives therapiesFAQsReferences
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Dehydration is simply a lack of water in the body. Our bodies are made up of roughly 60% water, which is required for almost every bodily function. Water can be lost from the body as a result of excessive sweating on a hot summer day or strenuous exercise. Even fever or excessive urination can cause a decrease in the body's overall water level.

Dry mouth, excessive thirst, tiredness, dark-colored urine, and less frequent urination are all symptoms of dehydration. But if left unattended, it can cause headaches, bad breath, dry skin, and in rare cases, lead to a medical emergency. 

So, if you experience dehydration, you can even try out some simple and effective home remedies to help restore mineral and fluid balance in the body. Medical attention is required in case of severe dehydration

Key Facts

Usually seen in
  • All age groups
Gender affected
  • Both male and female
Body part(s) involved
  • Skin
  • Lungs
  • Kidneys
  • GI tract
Necessary health tests/imaging
Specialists to consult
  • General physician
  • Pediatrician 
  • Gastroenterologist

Symptoms Of Dehydration 

Symptoms of dehydration in adults and children include:

  • Fatigue

  • Thirst

  • Dry skin and lips

  • Dark urine or decreased urine output

  • Headaches

  • Muscle cramps

  • Lightheadedness

  • Dizziness

  • Fainting or passing out

  • Palpitations

  • A sudden drop in blood pressure when you suddenly stand from a seated or lying down position.

Signs of dehydration in infants may include:

  • Wrinkled skin

  • Urinates only one to two times per day which means- less changing of diapers

  • Being drowsy or irritable

  • A sunken soft spot (fontanelle) on top of their head

  • Sunken eyes

  • Few or no tears when they cry

  • Cool, discolored hands and feet

  • Sleeping too much 

Here are some of the common signs and symptoms of dehydration in adults explained in detail.

Causes Of Dehydration

The adult human body is composed of up to 60% water. To keep cells and tissues healthy, it must maintain a delicate balance of fluids and electrolytes (including sodium chloride, potassium, calcium, and sodium bicarbonate). Water is primarily absorbed through the digestive tract. The kidneys remove waste and excess fluid and excrete it as urine.


Dehydration occurs when your body loses more fluid and electrolytes than it takes in, and you don't have enough to function normally.  A lack of fluid disrupts that balance and jeopardizes your body's ability to regulate its temperature and function properly.


The various causes of dehydration include:

  • Prolonged physical activity with excessive sweating without consuming adequate water, especially in a hot and/or dry environment

  • Prolonged exposure to dry air, e.g., in high-flying aeroplanes (5% to 12% relative humidity)

  • Blood loss due to physical trauma

  • High altitude

  • Diarrhea

  • Vomiting

  • Long term fasting

  • Recent rapid weight loss

  • Inability to swallow

  • Excessive use of caffeine and other stimulants

  • Excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages

  • Severe burns

Some infectious diseases that may cause dehydration include:

Medical conditions that are usually associated with dehydration include:

  • Diabetes mellitus

  • Diabetes insipidus

  • Addison disease 

  • Salt-wasting nephropathies

  • Hypoaldosteronism

  • Intestinal obstruction

  • Acute pancreatitis

Types of Dehydration

Dehydration is classified under three categories depending on

1. Hypotonic (deficiency of electrolytes especially sodium)

2. Hypertonic (primarily loss of water)

3. Isotonic (loss of both water and electrolytes in equal ratio)

Risk Factors For Dehydration

Although dehydration can happen to anyone, some people are at a greater risk. Those at most risk include:

  • Babies and infants - Babies have a low body weight and are sensitive to even minor fluid loss

  • Older people - Older persons may be less aware that they are becoming dehydrated and they need to keep drinking water to avoid being dehydrated.

  • People with long-term health conditions - Individuals who have a chronic illness, such as diabetes or alcoholism, may be at a higher risk of developing dehydration.

  • Athletes - Athletes can lose a significant amount of bodily fluid through sweat when they work out for a long time.

Diagnosis Of Dehydration

The doctor often diagnoses dehydration based on physical signs and symptoms.

  • Physical examination- Absence of tears, sunken eyes, palpated pressure, dry mucous membrane, thirst, change in blood pressure, and so on are all part of the physical examination.

However, to pinpoint the level of dehydration, the doctor may request a few tests, such as:

  • Blood tests- Blood samples may be used to rule out the root cause of infection (either virus, bacteria, or fungal) such as the levels of your electrolytes, blood urea nitrogen/creatinine, etc. 

  • Urinalysis- Urine tests can determine whether or not you are dehydrated and to what extent. They can also look for signs of a bladder infection and crystal formations or kidney stones etc. 

  • Urine toxicology- Some medicines can lead to dehydration too like Marijuana. For example- methamphetamine is a drug that is used to diagnose urine toxicology. 

Note: Babies and kids may not show the same signs of dehydration that adults do. If your baby or child is showing signs of dehydration, contact their doctor for advice.

Celebs affected

Dilip Kumar
The late superstar actor Dilip Kumar, who worked in many Bollywood films, was hospitalized after he suffered from dehydration.
Ileana D'Cruz
Actor Ileana D'Cruz, had suffered from severe dehydration. She stated in a post that she was treated with three bags of IV fluids, which are specifically prepared liquids to treat dehydration.

Prevention Of Dehydration

Here are some ways to keep dehydration at bay:

  • Examine the inside of your mouth for signs of dehydration. A healthy mucus membrane should be red, moist, and have good turgor. You can check this by looking inside your mouth. 

  • Drink the recommended amount of fluids even if you are not physically active. Don't put off drinking until you're thirsty. Drink fluids throughout the day, whether you're thirsty or not.

  • If you plan to exercise or participate in sports, increase your water intake. Drink water or electrolytes after exercise as well.

  • Have extra electrolytes on hand whenever you are ill, such as when you have a fever, vomiting, dysentery, or diarrhea, as this can result in fluids or electrolyte loss. 

Here are a few tips to prevent dehydration from dysentery or diarrhea.

  • In hot weather, dress coolly and avoid being out in direct sunlight if possible. Also, in hot weather, drink more water.

  • Eat a balanced diet that includes fruits and vegetables. They are high in water, salt, and vitamins and can help prevent dehydration.

  • Limit your intake of coffee, alcohol, and caffeinated beverages. They are diuretics, which means they remove water.

Prevention tips for babies and children:

Children also get dehydrated just like adults. If your child is very physically active or it's a warm day, make sure your child consumes plenty of water or other fluids.

You can try a baby version of a sports drink, like Pedialyte or Equalyte.

Specialist To Visit

You must seek medical attention right away if you, your child, or an adult exhibit severe dehydration symptoms, such as lethargy or diminished responsiveness, to avoid life-threatening health issues.

Immediately call your doctor if you experience any of the following signs:

  • Unusually fatigued (lethargic) or confused

  • Failing to urinate for eight hours

  • Fast heartbeat

  • Standing up makes you feel dizzy, but it doesn't go away after a short while.

You should also see a physician if your infant has had three or more recent episodes of vomiting or if they have had six or more episodes of diarrhea in the previous 24 hours. Children that are ill may require pediatrician supervision. 

The doctors you need to seek medical care from:

  • General Physician

  • Pediatrician (in case of infants)

  • Gastroenterologist

Consult India’s best doctors here from the comfort of your home.

Treatment Of Dehydration

The treatment of dehydration depends on age, the severity of dehydration, and its cause. You also may be treated for diarrhea, vomiting, or a high fever if the illness caused dehydration.

For Babies:

  • Feed your infant a lot of liquids, such as formula or breast milk. Prefer giving children smaller amounts of fluid more regularly.

  • Don't dilute your baby's formula (if you use it). Extra water can be given to formula-fed and solid-fed babies.

  • Avoid giving your baby fruit juice, particularly if they have diarrhea and vomiting, as it can aggravate their condition.

  • In addition to their regular feed (breastmilk, formula milk, and water), giving your infant regular sips of oral rehydration solution (ORS) will help to replace lost fluids, salts, and sugars.

For Infants and Children:

The most important treatment for young children suffering from vomiting or diarrhea is to keep them hydrated. This entails providing ample amounts of breast milk, formula, electrolyte solution, or other fluids.

Infants and children who have become dehydrated due to diarrhea, vomiting, or fever should not be given only water. Because it can dilute the already low mineral levels in their body, exacerbating the problem. Instead, they should have diluted squash or oral rehydration salts (ORS).

Struggling with dehydration? Watch our expert doctor share the recipe for making ORS at home.

Take lesser quantities more regularly if you or your child is having trouble keeping fluids down due to vomiting. To give your child small amounts of fluid, you may find it easier to use a spoon or a syringe.

Mild dehydration:

Dehydration causes the loss of sugar, salts, and water. It is frequently treated by drinking rehydration solutions that contain electrolytes and aid in the restoration of electrolytes such as sodium and potassium.

Here’s more on everything you need to know about ORS and its role in dehydration.

Severe dehydration:

For moderate to severe dehydration, you may need IV (intravenous) fluids. Severe dehydration is a medical emergency. It needs to be treated right away with IV fluids in a hospital.

Note: Even if patients get intravenous (IV) rehydration, they should start drinking ORS as soon as they are able.

In particular, babies, infants, and elderly people will need urgent treatment if they become dehydrated.

Feeling dehydrated? What to do if you feel dehydrated?


Based on the cause of dehydration, you may be given medicines such as acetaminophen (to treat fever), and antidiarrheal medicines, antiemetic medicines (to treat vomiting), etc.

  1. Coconut water-  Coconut water has adequate potassium and glucose content along with chloride and sodium, which make it a perfectly healthy drink for dehydration and diarrhea.

  2. Lemon water- Also known as nimbu paani, acts as one of the best home remedies for dehydration as it not only ups your water intake and helps you to stay hydrated but also prevents dehydration. The addition of salt and sugar to lemon water helps you to replenish the lost salts in the body along with increasing your vitamins and minerals level.

  3. Orange juice- It contains vitamin C, which flushes the toxins from the body and electrolytes such as sodium and potassium which help replenish the nutrient levels in the body.

  4. Yogurt- Add a pinch of salt to your yogurt and have it daily to prevent dehydration. Yogurt is rich in electrolytes and thus can help combat dehydration.

  5.  Chamomile- It is not simply an analgesic and de-stressing herb, but also serves as a rehydrating agent. You can also drink it as a decaffeinated tea to replenish lost fluids and maintain your hydration. 

Home-care For Dehydration

A few measures and lifestyle changes can help in the prevention of dehydration:

  • Drink as much water as possible each day (8–10 glasses of 8 ounces).

  • Be hydrated, especially if you're unwell.

  • Increase your fluid consumption if it's hot and humid outside, to replenish the water lost by sweating.

  • Rest in cool places, and avoid exercising if you feel dehydrated.

  • Avoid drinking coffee, soda, or any other beverage with a high sugar content if you are dehydrated and also have gastroenteritis or another illness. Both caffeine and soda may irritate the gastrointestinal tract.

  • Consume bland foods during dehydrated conditions.

  • Have sports drinks if you feel dehydrated after strenuous physical activity.

Along with these lifestyle changes, there are certain foods also that can help you deal with dehydration at home. They include:

  1. Bananas- Intake of bananas, which are high in water and potassium content, can not only help to replenish potassium levels in the body but also prevent dehydration.

  2. Buttermilk- Buttermilk is packed with nutrients like magnesium along with being loaded with high water content. It is not only easy on the stomach but acts as a natural probiotic that aids in dealing with diarrhea and indigestion, which could be the reason for dehydration

  3. Barley Water- Barley grains contain antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals such as potassium, magnesium, and phosphorus in good amounts which helps to restore minerals and water when taken in the form of barley water.

  4. Homemade ORS- You will need a half teaspoon of salt, 6 teaspoons of sugar and 4 cups of water. Mix all these ingredients until salt and sugar get dissolved completely. Drink the solution multiple times a day. You can consume 3 liters of this solution in a day.

Feeling lazy about homemade ORS? Here is our wide range of ORS powder!

  1. Asparagus (shatavari)- Asparagus provides a wonderful source of water, fiber, and electrolytes, all of which can help prevent dehydration. It assists in replenishing the lost fluids due to dehydration and regulates the body's fluid balance. It also acts as an antioxidant to help protect the body's cells from damage caused by dehydration.

  1. Willow Bark- It has anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties. It might be useful in easing some of the signs of dehydration, like headaches and aches in the muscles.

  2. Ginger (Adrak)-It has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It may also help to relieve nausea, which can be a symptom of dehydration.

Want to know more about home remedies for dehydration?

Complications Of Dehydration


Left untreated, dehydration can lead to serious complications. These include

  • Heat-related illnesses such as heat cramps, heat exhaustion, or heatstroke.

  • Urinary and kidney problems such as kidney stones or kidney failure.

  • Electrolyte imbalances (such as sodium and potassium)- that can lead to heart rhythm disturbances and seizures.

  • Shock, coma, or death.

  • Low blood volume shock (hypovolemic shock)- It occurs when low blood volume causes a drop in blood pressure and a drop in the amount of oxygen in your body.

  • Altered mental status, confused thinking.

Can dehydration affect brain activity?

As the brain is composed of about 75% water, dehydration can lead to a decrease in blood volume and blood pressure, reducing the flow of oxygen and nutrients to the brain. Studies have shown that even mild dehydration can lead to impaired cognitive performance such as attention, concentration, and memory. 

Say bye-bye to dehydration! Check out our widest range of hydrating drinks, especially for summer.

Alternative Therapies For Dehydration


1. Acupuncture and acupressure

Acupuncture and acupressure are two techniques commonly used to manage chronic vomiting. During acupuncture, a therapist inserts thin needles into specific points on the body. Acupressure aims to stimulate the same points of the body but uses pressure instead of needles to do so. Both techniques stimulate nerve fibers, which transmit signals to the brain and spinal cord and are believed to decrease nausea.

2. Aromatherapy therapy

This type of therapy may help relieve nausea and vomiting, although studies on its effectiveness are mixed. To practice aromatherapy, try deep breathing with an open essential oil bottle, or an essential oil diffuser, or add a few drops to a cotton ball. If you have asthma or another respiratory condition, ask your doctor before diffusing essential oils.

Buy essential oil products online to get rid of the unwelcoming feeling of nausea and vomiting.

Frequently Asked Questions


  1. Dehydration symptoms and treatments [Internet]. Illnesses & conditions | NHS inform. [cited 2023Feb28]. External Link
  2. Adult dehydration - statpearls - NCBI bookshelf [Internet]. [cited 2023Feb28]. External Link
  3. Gotfried J. Overview of gastroenteritis - digestive disorders [Internet]. MSD Manual Consumer Version. MSD Manuals; 2023 [cited 2023Feb28]. External Link
  4. Shigellosis - diarrhea, diarrhoea - dialogue on diarrhoea online - prevention, control, management and treatment of diarrhoeal diseases. [cited 2023Feb28]. External Link
  5. NHS choices. NHS; [cited 2023Feb28]. External Link
  6. Diagnostic strategy to diagnose dehydration in the nursing home [Internet]. [cited 2023Feb28]. External Link
  7. Signs of dehydration in infants & children [Internet]. HealthyChildren.org. [cited 2023Feb28]. External Link
  8. Treating dehydration with electrolyte solution [Internet]. HealthyChildren.org. [cited 2023Feb28].External Link
  9. Canavan A, Billy S. Arant J. Diagnosis and management of dehydration in children [Internet]. American Family Physician. 2009 [cited 2023Feb28]. External Link
  10. Festa A. Dangers of dehydration [Internet]. Healthgrades. Healthgrades; 2021 [cited 2023Feb28]. External Link
  11. Hydrate your brain and body using these 4 herbs - thehealthsite [Internet]. [cited 2023Feb28]. External Link
  12. Anzilotti AW, editor. Dehydration (for parents) - nemours kidshealth [Internet]. KidsHealth. The Nemours Foundation; 2020 [cited 2023Feb28]. External Link
  13. Rehydration therapy [Internet]. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; 2022 [cited 2023Feb28]. External Link
  14. Staff FE, Rice A, familydoctor.org editorial staff AR. Dehydration [Internet]. familydoctor.org. 2020 [cited 2023Feb28].External Link
  15. The amazing and mighty ginger - herbal medicine - NCBI bookshelf [Internet]. [cited 2023Feb28]. External Link
  16. Zhang N, Du SM, Zhang JF, Ma GS. Effects of dehydration and rehydration on cognitive performance and mood among male college students in Cangzhou, China: A self-controlled trial [Internet]. International journal of environmental research and public health. U.S. National Library of Medicine; 2019 [cited 2023Mar1]. External Link
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