What is dehydration? Dehydration symptoms, causes, diagnosis, and treatment



What is dehydration? Dehydration definition

Dehydration occurs when the body loses more water than it can take in. Such an imbalance can also disrupt the concentration of salts, minerals, and sugar in the blood, thereby interfering with the normal functioning of the human body and leading to serious problems and even life-threatening consequences.


Is dehydration easy to cause?


Dehydration is very common and can occur in people of any age. Water is lost daily through the air we exhale, sweat, urine, and faeces. If the body is not provided enough water or clean fluids to replace the lost water, dehydration will occur.


dehydration symptoms

Dehydration can have visible effects on the body, and common symptoms of dehydration include:


  • Extremely thirsty
  • Feeling dizzy or spinning
  • Palpitations (feeling your heart beating or pounding)
  • Decreased urine output
  • dry mouth
  • Urine feels very concentrated and appears dark yellow
  • Muscles become weak
  • dry skin

Seek medical attention immediately if you experience these symptoms of dehydration!

Although dehydration is common, it can be hazardous if left untreated. If you experience any of the following, please notify your doctor immediately:

  • fever
  • Diarrhea for more than two days
  • decreased urine output
  • Unconscious
  • weak
  • Can’t concentrate
  • syncope



Causes of dehydration

Insufficient fluid intake is usually the cause of dehydration. Other risk factors include climate, activity, and diet. Persistent diarrheas’, vomiting, or diabetes can also cause dehydration.


  • Five high-risk groups are prone to dehydration
  • Infants and young children: Because they weigh less, even a slight water loss will significantly impact the body.
  • Older adults: It is easy for them to become dehydrated because they forget to replenish water or do not know they need to replenish it.
  • Patients with medical conditions: Patients with diabetes, kidney disease, and alcohol addiction are also prone to dehydration.
  • Athletes: Endurance activities such as marathons, triathlons, and championships can also cause dehydration due to sweating.
  • Heavy labour workers: Workers or porters are often exposed to the hot sun and will lose a lot of water through sweating.


How is dehydration diagnosed?

Physicians can determine whether you are dehydrated based on specific physiological symptoms, such as loss of directional awareness (Disorientation), low blood pressure, heart palpitations, fever, and loss of skin elasticity.

Blood tests can tell whether the kidneys are functioning correctly and confirm the concentration of sodium, potassium and other electrolytes in the body.

Urinalysis is also helpful in diagnosing dehydration because dehydrated patients will have darker and more concentrated urine.

In infants, doctors usually look at the soft spots on their heads (fontanelles), sweating, and muscle characteristics to determine whether they are dehydrated.


How to treat symptoms of dehydration?

To treat dehydration, you first need to replenish the lost water. Drink a lot of liquids, such as water, lemonade, juice, etc., but avoid caffeinated drinks or sparkling drinks.


Dehydrated infants and young children should not be given plain water as this may dilute the body’s already low electrolytes and minerals. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends using oral dehydration solutions containing potassium, salt and sugar to restore fluid balance in the body.


Severe dehydration requires immediate medical attention or notification to a physician for appropriate medical treatment, including antidiarrheal drugs, antiemetics, and antipyretics.


How can we improve and prevent dehydration symptoms?

  • Take small sips when drinking water
  • Drink drinks containing carbohydrates and electrolytes
  • Suck on a popsicle made from juice or a sports drink
  • drink water with a straw
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