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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: 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 ...more misdiagnosis »

Causes of Dehydration:

The following medical conditions are some of the possible causes of Dehydration. There are likely to be other possible causes, so ask your doctor about your symptoms.

» Review Causes of Dehydration: Causes | Symptom Checker » | Assessment Questionnaire »

Causes of Types of Dehydration:

Review the causes of these more specific types of Dehydration:

Review causes of more specific types of Dehydration:

Dehydration: Symptom Checker

Listed below are some combinations of symptoms associated with Dehydration, as listed in our database. Visit the Symptom Checker, to add and remove symptoms and research your condition.

Symptom Checker

Symptom Checker

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 ...Dehydration Treatments

Some of the possible treatments listed in sources for treatment of Dehydration may include:

  • Hospitalization - Newborns and infants need special care; dehydration can be severe or even fatal
  • Water - but not enough alone, need electrolytes as well.
  • Fluids - broth or soups (for salt/sodium), fruit juices, soft fruits, vegetables (for potassium)
  • Intravenous fluids - in severe cases
  • Breast milk
  • Baby formula
  • Infant rehydration solutions - special medications containing the required electrolytes
  • more treatments...»

Review further information on Dehydration Treatments.

Alternative Treatments for Dehydration

Alternative treatments or home remedies that have been listed as possibly helpful for Dehydration may include:

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

Stories from Users for Dehydration

Real-life user stories relating to Dehydration:

Message Boards for Dehydration

Symptom specific forums: The following patient stories in our interactive forums and message boards relate to Dehydration or relevant symptoms:

Diagnostic tests for Dehydration:

Various tests are used in the diagnosis of Dehydration. Some of these are listed below :

  • Physical examination
    • Note any reduced level of consciousness which is a sign of poor brain perfusion due to dehydration
    • Blood pressure - low blood pressure is a late sign of dehydration. Postural hypotension is an early warning sign.
    • Pulse rate - elevated pulse rate is a reliable sign of dehydration in the young but not so reliable in the elderly or in patients on beta blocker or calcium channel blocker medications.
    • Full physical examination looking for explanation for dehydration is cause is not known
  • Blood tests
    • Full blood count and ESR can show signs of dehydration itself or signs of associated infection or inflammation. Anemia may be evident with chronic blood loss
  • more tests...»

Medications or substances causing Dehydration:

The following drugs, medications, substances or toxins are some of the possible causes of Dehydration as a symptom. Always advise your doctor of any medications or treatments you are using, including prescription, over-the-counter, supplements, herbal or alternative treatments.

Drug interactions causing Dehydration:

When combined, certain drugs, medications, substances or toxins may react causing Dehydration as a symptom. Always advise your doctor of any medications or treatments you are using, including prescription, over-the-counter, supplements, herbal or alternative treatments.

Dehydration: Comorbid Symptoms

Some of the comorbid or associated medical symptoms for Dehydration may include these symptoms:

Causes of General Symptom Types

Research the causes of these more general types of symptom:

Causes of Similar Symptoms to Dehydration

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

Assessment Questionnaire: Questions your doctor may ask (and why!)

During a consultation, your doctor will use various techniques to assess the symptom: Dehydration. These will include a physical examination and possibly diagnostic tests. (Note: A physical exam is always done, diagnostic tests may or may not be performed depending on the suspected condition) Your doctor will ask several questions when assessing your condition. It is important to openly share any pertinent information to help your doctor make an accurate diagnosis.

It is also very important to bring an up-to-date list of all of your all medical conditions, medications including dosages, and names of numbers of any specialist you see.

Create your printable checklist here.

See Dehydration Assessment Questionnaire (18 listings)

Dehydration: Deaths

Read more about causes and Dehydration deaths.

Causes of Dehydration listed in Disease Database:

Other medical conditions listed in the Disease Database as possible causes of Dehydration as a symptom include:

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)

A condition caused by the loss of too much water from the body. Severe diarrhea or vomiting can cause dehydration.
- (Source - National Cancer Institute)

Organs affected by Dehydration:

The list of organs typically affected by Dehydration may include, but is not limited to:

Detailed list of causes of Dehydration

The list below shows some of the causes of Dehydration mentioned in various sources:

How Common are these Causes of Dehydration?

This information refers to the general prevalence and incidence of these diseases, not to how likely they are to be the actual cause of Dehydration. Of the 284 causes of Dehydration that we have listed, we have the following prevalence/incidence information:

  • 5 causes are "very common" diseases
  • 6 causes are "common" diseases
  • 4 causes are "uncommon" diseases
  • 0 causes are "rare" diseases
  • 14 causes are "very rare" diseases
  • 267 causes have no prevalence information.

Conditions listing medical symptoms: Dehydration:

The following list of conditions have 'Dehydration' or similar listed as a symptom in our database. This computer-generated list may be inaccurate or incomplete. Always seek prompt professional medical advice about the cause of any symptom.

Select from the following alphabetical view of conditions which include a symptom of Dehydration or choose View All.

View All A B C D E F G H I J K L M N P R S T U V W #























Conditions listing medical complications: Dehydration:

The following list of medical conditions have Dehydration or similar listed as a medical complication in our database. The distinction between a symptom and complication is not always clear, and conditions mentioning this symptom as a complication may also be relevant. This computer-generated list may be inaccurate or incomplete. Always seek prompt professional medical advice about the cause of any symptom.


















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Causes of Dehydration Based on Risk Factors

This information shows analysis of the list of causes of Dehydration based on whether certain risk factors apply to the patient:

  • Travel - has the patient travelled recently?
  • Diabetes - history of diabetes or family history of diabetes?

    Doctors and specialists: Who should I consult about Dehydration?

    Depending on the seriousness of the onset of Dehydration, you may want to consult one of the following medical professionals.

    Important:In extreme cases, always seek advice from emergency services :

    What are the alternative names for Dehydration:

    Water depletion
    - (Source - Diseases Database)

    Classifications of Dehydration:

    Subtypes of Dehydration:

    Sunken eyes (40 causes), Enophthalmos (24 causes), Enopthalmos (7 causes), Enophthalmus (8 causes)

    Medical Conditions associated with Dehydration:

    Body symptoms (5672 causes), Electrolyte imbalance symptoms (300 causes), Blood symptoms (2297 causes), Abnormal blood test symptoms (1538 causes)

    Symptoms related to Dehydration:

    Headache (2433 causes), Fever (2274 causes), Diarrhea (2312 causes), Vomiting (2819 causes), Pyrexia, Excessive bleeding (1783 causes), Excessive sweating (100 causes), Excessive sun exposure, Inadequate fluid intake

    Medical articles on signs and symptoms:

    Doctor-patient articles related to symptoms and diagnosis:

    These general medical articles may be of interest:

    Medical News summaries about Dehydration

    Our news pages contain the following medical news summaries about Dehydration and many other medical conditions:

    Related medical articles from our Disease Center for Dehydration:

    More Ways To Research Medical Signs and Symptoms:


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