Debra Wood, RN
Dehydration results from excessive loss of fluids from the body.
To work properly, the body requires a certain amount of water and other elements, called electrolytes. Drinking and eating help to replace fluids that have been lost through the body's functions. Fluids are normally lost through sweat, urine, bowel movements, and breathing. If you lose a lot of fluids and do not replace them, you can become dehydrated.
Factors that may increase the risk of dehydration include:
Other risk factors include:
Symptoms vary depending on the degree of dehydration. Symptoms may include:
Dehydration can be extremely serious and life threatening. It may require immediate medical care.
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will also be done. This will include measuring your vital signs. To help provide information for the doctor, keep a diary of:
Tests may include:
Therapy aims to rehydrate the body, replace lost electrolytes, and prevent complications. If you have an underlying condition, your doctor will treat that, as well.
Treatment may include:
If you have minimal or moderate dehydration, you doctor may have you replace fluids by mouth. You may need to:
If you are severely dehydrated, intravenous fluids (given through a vein in your arm) will be given to rapidly replace fluids.
Your doctor may recommend that you take medicine, such as:
If you are diagnosed with dehydration, follow your doctor's
To prevent dehydration:
American Academy of Family Physicians
American Academy of Pediatrics
About Kids Health
Dehydration and heat stroke. Wexner Medical Center website. Available at:
http://medicalcenter.osu.edu/patientcare/healthcare_services/emergency_services/non_traumatic_emergencies/dehydration_heat_stroke/Pages/index.aspx. Accessed July 23, 2012.
Dehydration and hypovolemia. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:
https://dynamed.ebscohost.com/about/about-us. Updated January 25, 2012. Accessed July 23, 2012.
Rehydration therapy in children. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:
https://dynamed.ebscohost.com/about/about-us. Updated February 26, 2012. Accessed July 23, 2012.
Last reviewed March 2013 by Brian Randall
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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