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.
Dehydration is more common in children younger than 2 years and people aged 65 years or older, especially those with chronic illness.
Factors that may increase the risk of dehydration include:
Symptoms vary depending on the degree of dehydration. Symptoms may include:
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.
Dehydration can be extremely serious and life threatening. It may require immediate medical care.
You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.
Your bodily fluids may be tested. This can be done with:
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, your doctor may have you replace fluids by mouth. You may need to:
If you are severely dehydrated, IV fluids will be given to rapidly replace fluids.
Your doctor may recommend that you take medication, such as:
If you are diagnosed with dehydration, follow your doctor's instructions.
To prevent dehydration:
Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians
Healthy Children—American Academy of Pediatrics
About Kids Health—The Hospital for Sick Children
Dehydration and hypovolemia in adults. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated January 5, 2015. Accessed January 8, 2015.
Dehydration and hypovolemia in infants and children. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated January 5, 2015. Accessed January 8, 2015.
Rehydration therapy in children. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated January 5, 2015. Accessed January 8, 2015.
Last reviewed January 2015 by Peter Lucas, MDLast Updated: 12/12/2013