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Dehydration: Symptoms, Causes And Its Treatment


The absence of enough water in your body is known as dehydration. Drinking before you become thirsty is the greatest method to avoid dehydration.

You are already moderately dehydrated if you are thirsty, which could produce symptoms, such as dizziness, headaches, weariness, and more.

Life-threatening conditions like heat stroke might be exacerbated by dehydration. Warm weather conjures up images of tall glasses of lemonade, calm coastal breezes, and hammock lounging.

Keep that lemonade image in your head as summer is also a time to be aware of dehydration, which is defined[1] as a shortage of water in your body, especially in your blood vessels and cells.

Even a small amount of water loss, as low as 1.6 percent of your total body weight, might induce symptoms.

Dehydration could cause minor symptoms like a headache, or it might lead to a life-threatening disease like heat stroke, also known as hyperthermia.

Thirst is your body’s natural response to dehydration. Drinking fluids preferably water should be your first response to thirst.

As there are no calories in water, you should drink plenty of water to keep yourself from becoming thirsty.

In this article, we will be looking at the symptoms, causes, and treatment of dehydration.

Symptoms Of Dehydration

Decreased urine, thirst, and darker urine are the very early signs of dehydration. The color of urine[2] is often one of the best indicators of a person’s hydration status.

Darker urine indicates dehydration and clear urine indicates adequate hydration. It is crucial to remember, however, that dehydration might occur without thirst, especially in elderly persons.

This is why, when it is hot outside or you are sick, you should drink more water. Studies[3] have shown that dehydration could sometimes also affect your cognitive performance, hence, it is necessary to drink water.

The following symptoms appear as a person suffers[4] from mild dehydration:

  • headache.
  • Dry mouth.
  • Dizziness.
  • Weakness in muscles.
  • Lethargy.

Severe dehydration (more than the loss of fifteen percent of body water) is often marked by extreme versions of the above symptoms, and also the following:

  • Dry and shriveled skin.
  • Lack of sweating.
  • Low blood pressure.
  • Sunken eyes.
  • Unconsciousness.
  • Delirium.
  • Fever.
  • Increased heart rate[5].

Symptoms of dehydration in babies[6] could include:

  • Dry mouth and tongue.
  • A sunken soft spot on the top of the head, which is known as sunken fontanel.
  • No tears while crying/dry eyes
  • Irritability.
  • Dry diapers for more than 4 hours.
  • Sunken eyes or cheeks.

Causes Of Dehydration

Dehydration is often caused by a condition in which the body tends to lose more fluids than usual.

Urine, breathing, and sweating are how your body tends to lose water per day. You could become very dehydrated if the water is not often refilled.

Here are some of the major causes of dehydration:

  1. Sweating

    Excessive sweating has been enlisted as one of the causes[4] of dehydration during observational studies, as you lose so much water.

    Water and salt make up the majority of the fluid you sweat. Sweating is a natural way for your body to cool down.

    Sweat glands activate when you feel hot, which releases moisture from your body in an attempt to cool you down.

    This is accomplished through evaporation. A drop of perspiration carries a small quantity of heat with it as it evaporates from your skin.

    Hyperhidrosis is the medical word for excessive perspiration.
    The more sweat you create, the more evaporation occurs, and you get cooler.

    Sweating also keeps your body’s electrolyte balance in check and moisturizes your skin.

  2. Urination

    Urination is the body’s natural means of eliminating poisons. You risk dehydration if you do not replace the fluid lost through excessive urine.

    Chemical imbalances could result from certain situations, which might lead to an increase in urine production[7].

  3. Fever

    When you have a fever, your body attempts to lower your temperature by losing fluid through your skin’s surface.

    When you have a fever, you could sweat excessively, and if you do not drink to restore your fluids, you might become[8] dehydrated.

  4. Illness

    Dehydration could be caused[9] by illnesses that induce constant diarrhea or vomiting. This is because diarrhea and vomiting might cause your body to release too much water.

    These processes also result in the loss of important electrolytes. Electrolytes are present in urine, blood, and different bodily fluids.

    Electrolytes are minerals that the body uses to regulate organ functions, muscular contractions, and blood chemistry.

    These functions could be harmed by diarrhea or vomiting, which might lead to serious problems, such as coma and stroke.

Treatment Of Dehydration

Dehydration is cured[1] by restoration of the body’s fluid balance. Clear broths, water, sports drinks, ice pops, and frozen water are clear fluids that might help in restoring dehydration.

However, some dehydrated persons often require fluids given intravenously to rehydrate.

Beverages containing caffeine like sodas, coffee, and tea should be avoided by people suffering from dehydration.

Dehydration is also caused by underlying problems which could be treated with the proper medication.

This could include antiemetics and anti-diarrhea to halt vomiting, and anti-fever medications, which are available online or over the counter.

Replacement of electrolytes and lost fluids is the only effective[10] treatment for dehydration.

The optimal way to treat dehydration is determined by the cause of your dehydration, your age, and the degree of your dehydration.

Use an over-the-counter oral rehydration solution for children and infants who have been dehydrated due to fever, diarrhea, or vomiting.

These solutions have specified quantities of salts and water to restore both electrolytes and fluids.

Start with 5 ml (one teaspoon) every 5 to 10 minutes and gradually increase as tolerated. For very young children, a syringe might be more convenient.

Diluted sports drinks could be given to older children. To make a sports drink, mix 1 part water with 1 part sports drink.

Most individuals could improve their condition by drinking more water or different liquids if they are dehydrated due to fever, diarrhea, or vomiting.

Full-strength soft drinks and fruit juice might aggravate diarrhea. Cool water is your best bet if you exercise or work outside in humid or hot conditions.

Carbohydrates and electrolytes containing sports drinks might also be beneficial. 

Severely dehydrated adults and children should be treated by emergency staff in a hospital emergency department or an ambulance if they are dehydrated.

Intravenously administered fluids and salts are quickly absorbed and fasten recovery.


When you do not drink enough water, you become dehydrated. Dehydration could be dangerous no matter what the reason is, whether it is from an illness, exercise, or hot weather.

Drinking plenty of water throughout the day and taking electrolytes if you notice early signs of fluid loss might help prevent dehydration. Physical symptoms and signs might often be used by your doctor to identify dehydration. 

You might have low blood pressure if you are dehydrated, especially if you have reduced blood flow to your extremities, when going from a lying to a standing posture, or if you are having a quicker than normal heart rate.

10 References/Sources

Working4Health prefers using primary and verified references. We have strict sourcing guidelines and our primary references include peer-reviewed research, academic, and medical institution studies.

  1. Dehydration Available from: https://medlineplus.gov/dehydration.html
  2. Erica T. Perrier, Evan C. Johnson, Amy L. McKenzie, et al. Urine colour change as an indicator of change in daily water intake: a quantitative analysis Eur J Nutr. 2016; 55: 1943–1949. Published online 2015 Aug 19. doi: 10.1007/s00394-015-1010-2
  3. Ana Adan Cognitive performance and dehydration J Am Coll Nutr. 2012 Apr;31(2):71-8. doi: 10.1080/07315724.2012.10720011. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22855911/
  4. Naila A. Shaheen, Abdulrahman A. Alqahtani, Hussam Assiri, et al. Public knowledge of dehydration and fluid intake practices: variation by participants’ characteristics BMC Public Health. 2018; 18: 1346. Published online 2018 Dec 5. doi: 10.1186/s12889-018-6252-5
  5. Joseph C. Watso and William B. Farquhar Hydration Status and Cardiovascular Function Nutrients. 2019 Aug; 11(8): 1866. Published online 2019 Aug 11. doi: 10.3390/nu11081866
  6. Roy M. Vega; Usha Avva. Pediatric Dehydration Last Update: May 1, 2022. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK436022/
  7. Dehydration Published on Oct. 14, 2021 Available from: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dehydration/symptoms-causes/syc-20354086
  8. Kory Taylor; Elizabeth B. Jones. Adult Dehydration Last Update: May 15, 2022 Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK555956/
  9. Dehydration and diarrhea Paediatr Child Health. 2003 Sep; 8(7): 459–460. doi: 10.1093/pch/8.7.459
  10. Water and Electrolytes Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK234935/

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