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Dehydration: Introduction

Dehydration is an abnormal condition in which the body's cells are deprived of an adequate amount of water. Dehydration can be the result of conditions that cause the body to lose too much water, such as excessive heat, sweating, illness, low humidity, medication side effects, and high elevation, such as in the mountains. Dehydration can also be the result of not drinking enough water and fluids.

Dehydration can be mild, moderate or severe and life-threatening. Infants, children, athletes and the elderly are particularly prone to dehydration and severe complications, although dehydration can occur in any age group or population. In an otherwise healthy person, dehydration can be prevented by drinking about eight eight ounce glasses of water per day.

Adequate amounts of water, or good hydration, is necessary to prevent dehydration. Water is a vital substance in the body. It makes up about 70 percent of the muscles, organs, and solid tissue in the body and is crucial to many of the body's processes. Dehydration negatively affects such functions as eliminating toxins, delivering nutrients, carrying oxygen to the cells of the body, producing energy, and lubricating joints. Dehydration can impact proper balance of vital electrolytes, such as sodium and potassium, which are also essential to healthy functioning of the body.

Dehydration can be acute and appear relatively suddenly, such as dehydration that occurs with a new case of type 1 diabetes. Dehydration can also be ongoing and chronic, such as can occur an elderly person who does not drink enough fluids because of a fear of incontinence.

Dehydration can also be a symptom of a diseases, such as aldosterone deficiency and type 1 diabetes. Dehydration can be the result of a wide variety of other conditions, diseases or disorders. These include vomiting, diarrhea, alcohol intoxication, fever, cholera, jet lag and gastroenteritis. Dehydration can also result from taking diuretic medications, such as furosemide (Lasix), which cause the body to lose water.

Symptoms of dehydration include thirst, and dry lips and tongue. Complications of dehydration can be serious, even life-threatening and include shock, coma and death. For more details about symptoms and complications, see symptoms of dehydration.

Diagnosing dehydration and its root cause begins with taking a thorough personal and family medical history, including symptoms, and completing a physical examination. Diagnostic testing that is performed generally includes a chemistry profile, which measures levels of electrolytes, such as sodium and potassium.

A complete blood count can reveal blood that is abnormally concentrated due to a lack of water. A urine specific gravity test is a test that measures the specific gravity of urine, which is elevated with moderate to severe dehydration. A BUN and creatinine test measures kidney function and substances that may be abnormally high in the blood in dehydration.

Making a diagnosis also includes performing a variety of other tests to help to diagnose the underlying disease, condition or disorder causing the dehydration. This generally includes blood sugar testing to check for diabetes.

A diagnosis of dehydration and its cause can easily be delayed or missed because some people may be unaware that they have become dehydrated. For information on misdiagnosis, refer to misdiagnosis of dehydration.

Treatment of dehydration involves rehydration using oral or intravenous fluids and treating any underlying disease, disorder or condition that may be causing the dehydration. For more information on treatment, refer to treatment of dehydration. ...more »

Dehydration: Dehydration is the loss of water from the body. A related disorder is volume depletion where both fluids and salts are depleted in the cells. ...more »

Dehydration: Symptoms

Often the first symptom a person with dehydration experiences is thirst. By the time thirst is experienced, dehydration is already occurring. Not all people, especially the elderly, may experience or be aware of thirst in the early stages of dehydration. Other symptoms may include dry mouth, dry lips, sunken eyes, inability to make tears and little or no urine production.

In ...more symptoms »

Dehydration: Treatments

The first step in treating dehydration is prevention. For healthy adults this includes drinking eight eight ounce glasses of water every day. Water needs will be higher for certain people, such as athletes or people who live at high altitudes or in hot, dry climates. Athletes may benefit from drinking a solution that is fortified with the electrolytes that are lost through sweating, such as ...more treatments »

Dehydration: Misdiagnosis

Diagnosing dehydration and its cause may be delayed or missed because the dehydration may not be severe enough for a person to seek medical care. Some people, especially as the elderly, may be unaware that they are experiencing symptoms of dehydration, such as thirst, rapid heartbeat, and weakness. In addition, some symptoms of dehydration, such as headache, thirst and ...more misdiagnosis »

Symptoms of Dehydration

Treatments for Dehydration

Home Diagnostic Testing

Home medical testing related to Dehydration:

Wrongly Diagnosed with Dehydration?

Dehydration: Related Patient Stories

Dehydration: Deaths

Read more about Deaths and Dehydration.

Alternative Treatments for Dehydration

Alternative treatments or home remedies that have been listed in various sources as possibly beneficial for Dehydration may include:

  • Oral rehydration
  • Cinchona homeopathic remedy
  • Phosphoric acid homeopathic remedy
  • Carbo vegetabilis homeopathic remedy
  • more treatments »

Dehydration: Complications

Review possible medical complications related to Dehydration:

Causes of Dehydration

More information about causes of Dehydration:

Disease Topics Related To Dehydration

Research the causes of these diseases that are similar to, or related to, Dehydration:

Misdiagnosis and Dehydration

Unnecessary hysterectomies due to undiagnosed bleeding disorder in women: The bleeding disorder called Von Willebrand's disease is quite common more »

Dehydration: Research Doctors & Specialists

Research related physicians and medical specialists:

Other doctor, physician and specialist research services:

Latest Treatments for Dehydration

Dehydration: Animations

Research about Dehydration

Visit our research pages for current research about Dehydration treatments.

Clinical Trials for Dehydration

The US based website lists information on both federally and privately supported clinical trials using human volunteers.

Some of the clinical trials listed on for Dehydration include:

Statistics for Dehydration

Dehydration: Broader Related Topics

Dehydration Message Boards

Related forums and medical stories:

User Interactive Forums

Read about other experiences, ask a question about Dehydration, or answer someone else's question, on our message boards:

Definitions of Dehydration:

The condition that results from excessive loss of water from a living organism. - (Source - Diseases Database)

Dryness resulting from the removal of water - (Source - WordNet 2.1)


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