What is dehydration?


Know the basics

What is dehydration?

Dehydration is the condition when the body loses more water than it takes in. This imbalance also disrupts the salt, mineral and sugar levels in the blood, which can interfere with the way the body functions and cause several harmful effects.

How common is dehydration?

Dehydration is very common. It can affect patients at any age. Everyday, the water in our body is reduced in the breaths we exhale, in our sweat, urine and stool. If we don’t provide our body with enough water or clear liquids to make up for the amount that is lost, we become dehydrated.

Dehydration can be managed by reducing your risk factors. You can discuss with your doctor for further information.

Know the symptoms

What are the symptoms of dehydration?

Dehydration can have visible effects on your body. Some common symptoms of dehydration are:

  • Intense thirst;
  • Feeling dizzy or light-headed;
  • Palpitations (feeling that the heart is jumping or pounding);
  • Decreased urine output;
  • Dry mouth;
  • Having concentrated urine that is deeply yellow;
  • Weakening muscle;
  • Dry skin.

There may be some symptoms not listed above. Consult your doctor right away if you experience any abnormal symptoms.

When should I see my doctor?

Despite being common, dehydration can be extremely dangerous if left untreated. Call your doctor immediately if you experience any of the following:

  • Fever;
  • Diarrhea for more than 2 days;
  • Decreased urine production;
  • Confusion;
  • Weakness;
  • Inability to concentrate;
  • Fainting;
  • Chest or abdominal pain.

If you have any signs or symptoms listed above or have any questions, please consult with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.

Know the causes

What causes dehydration?

Dehydration usually caused by an inadequate intake of fluids. Other factors may include climate, physical activity and diet. Also, it can be caused by illnesses that may lead to water loss such as persistent diarrhea, vomiting and diabetes.

Know the risk factors

What increases my risk for dehydration?

Babies and infants are at greater risk of dehydration because their low body weight makes them sensitive to even a minor fluid loss.

The elderly are also at great risk because they may forget or not realize they need to drink fluids.

People with chronic illness such as diabetes, kidney disease, alcoholism can also suffer dehydration.

Athletes, especially those in endurance events such as marathons, triathlons and tournaments can be affected due to the amount of body fluids loss through sweat.

Those with professions that require labor work, such as construction worker, are regularly exposed to the sun and lose a lot of water from sweating.

Understand the diagnosis & treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.

How is dehydration diagnosed?

The doctor may perform a variety of simple tests or send blood or urine samples to the laboratory.

  • There are some physical symptoms that doctor can base their diagnosis on such as disorientation, low blood pressure, rapid heartbeat (palpitations), fever and inelastic skin.
  • Blood tests are used to know whether the kidney is well-functioned or not and to check the levels of sodium, potassium and other electrolyte in the body.
  • A urinalysis is very useful for the dehydration diagnosis as the urine of a dehydrated person will be darker in color and more concentrated.

To determine dehydration in infants, doctor usually check for a soft spot on the skull, sweat and certain muscle characteristics.

How is dehydration treated?

Of course, to make up for the fluid loss in your body, you need to drink plenty of fluids such as water, squash, juice, but should avoid caffeinated and fizzy drinks.

Infants and small children with dehydration should not be given water because this can dilute the already low levels of electrolytes and minerals in the body. The World Health Organization recommends the use of oral rehydration solutions that contains a mixture of potassium, salts and sugars to restore the balanced body fluids.

In case of severe dehydration, you need to go to the hospital or contact your doctor right away to receive appropriate medications. This may include anti-diarrhea medicines, anti-emetics (medications to stop vomiting) and anti-fever medicines.

Lifestyle changes & home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage dehydration?

The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with health condition:

  • Sipping small amounts of water;
  • Drink carbonhydrated/electrolyte-containing drinks;
  • Sucking on popsicles made from juices and sports drinks;
  • Sipping through a straw.

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.


Review Date: May 30, 2016 | Last Modified: January 4, 2017

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