Description of Dehydration

Definition of Dehydration
Dehydration is defined as the loss of body fluid or removal of water from the body leading to a deficiency of fluid or electrolytes within an organism.

Types of Dehydration

Dehydration is classified under three categories depending on:
1. Deficiency of electrolytes (especially sodium)
2. Loss of water
3. Loss of both water and electrolytes in equal ratio
Signs and Symptoms of Dehydration
Dehydration can have grave consequences if neglected as it may cause death in severe cases. Some of the symptoms include:
1. Mild headache
2. Blurred vision
3. Lethargy and extreme sleepiness
4. Decreased blood pressure
5. Dizziness or fainting
6. Thirst and dry mouth
7. Discomfort and fatigue
8. Dry skin
9. Decrease in urine volume, the urine passed is usually dark in color
10. Delirium
11. Swelling of the tongue
12. Insomnia
13. It may also impact one’s mood negatively and lead to a state of confusion.
Causes and Risk Factors of Dehydration
In humans, dehydration can be caused by a wide range of diseases and can be broadly divided into the following:
External or stress-related causes:
1. Prolonged physical activity with sweating without consuming adequate water, especially in a hot and/or dry environment
2. Prolonged exposure to dry air, e.g., in high-flying airplanes (5% to 12% relative humidity)
3. Blood loss or hypotension due to physical trauma
4. Diarrhea
5. Vomiting
6. Burns
7. Excessive use of caffeine and other stimulants
8. Excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages
Some infectious diseases may also cause dehydration such as:
1. Cholera
2. Gastroenteritis
3. Shigellosis
4. Yellow fever
Inadequate diet and nutrition intake can lead to electrolyte disturbance causing a state of dehydration. Conditions like fasting, recent rapid weight loss, inability to swallow and other causes of obligate water loss may result in dehydration.
Also, there can be water loss in case one is suffering from severe hyperglycemia, especially in diabetes mellitus, glycosuria, diabetes insipidus, and others including food borne diseases.
Diagnosis is usually done on the basis of symptoms.
Complications and When Should You See a Doctor
In severe cases, dehydration may lead to death. Once the condition is severe, drinking or intake of water or electrolyte may infuse vomiting, leading to further fluid loss. Therefore, one has to be cautious while diagnosing and treating for dehydration.
Treatment and Prevention of Dehydration
Here are some preventive and treatment measures for dehydration:
1. In emergency, doctors replenish the water loss through drips -- electrolytes
2. Drink plenty of water
3. Drink fluids and eat fresh fruits
4. Avoid caffeine intake or reduce it to minimum
5. Balance salt intake
6. Take energy drink after prolonged stay under the sun
Content Details
Last updated on:
01 Feb 2018 | 03:43 PM (IST)
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