When you use or lose more fluid than you consume, your body becomes dehydrated because it lacks the water and other fluids it needs to operate normally. Dehydration will occur if lost fluids are not replaced. Dehydration may affect everyone, but it is particularly harmful to small children and elderly people.

Dehydration in young children is most frequently brought on by severe diarrhea and vomiting. Elderly people naturally have less water in their systems, and they may have diseases or take drugs that make them more susceptible to being dehydrated.

This implies that even relatively small ailments, such as lung or bladder infections, can cause elderly people to become dehydrated. If you don't drink enough water in hot weather, especially if you are moving hard, dehydration can occur in people of any age. More fluids may typically help you recover from mild to moderate dehydration, but severe dehydration requires rapid medical attention.

Dehydration: Causes

Dehydration may sometimes be avoided by drinking enough water. This might happen when you're busy or ill, or when you're traveling, trekking, or camping and don't have access to clean drinking water.

Additional reasons for dehydration include −

  • Nausea and vomiting. A severe case of acute diarrhea, or diarrhea that appears abruptly and violently, can result in a rapid loss of electrolytes and water. You lose much more fluids and minerals if you have both diarrhea and vomiting.

  • Fever. In general, the higher your temperature, the greater the risk of dehydration. If you have diarrhea, vomiting, and a fever, the condition gets worse.

  • Excessive perspiration. Sweating causes water loss. If you engage in strenuous exercise without replenishing lost fluids, you risk becoming dehydrated. Sweating and fluid loss are both accelerated in hot, humid conditions.

  • Frequent urination. Undiagnosed or uncontrolled diabetes may be to blame for this. Dehydration is a side effect of various drugs, such as diuretics and some blood pressure medications, mostly because they make you pee more frequently.

Dehydration: Symptoms

The body doesn't always use thirst as a dependable early signal of its water demand. Many people don't become thirsty until they are already dehydrated, especially elderly ones. Because of this, it's crucial to drink more water when it's hot outside or when you're sick.

A dehydrated patient may present with the following symptoms −

  • Dry tongue and mouth

  • No tears when weeping

  • During three hours, no wet diapers

  • Reduced cheekbones and eyes

  • Skull's top soft spot is recessed.

  • Vacillation or irritability

  • Adults who rarely urinate are extremely thirsty

  • Urine with a deep color

  • Fatigue

  • Dizziness

  • Confusion

Dehydration: Risk Factors

Several factors play an important role in the development of dehydration which includes −

  • Children and babies. Infants and toddlers are more prone to develop severe diarrhea and vomiting, making them particularly susceptible to dehydration.

  • Older people. Your body's ability to hold onto fluids decreases with age, along with your capacity for water conservation and the intensity of your thirst.

  • Patients with persistent diseases. You have a considerable risk of dehydration if your diabetes is uncontrolled or not being managed. Your risk is further increased by kidney illness and drugs that make you urinate more frequently.

  • Those who go outside to work or exercise. The risk of dehydration and heat sickness rises in hot, humid weather. Because perspiration doesn't evaporate and cool you down as quickly when the air is humid, this might result in an elevated body temperature and the need for additional cooling measures.

Dehydration: Diagnosis

The diagnosis of dehydration is mainly done based on history and some of the tests may be required for confirmation and to rule out underlying causes −

Dehydration is frequently diagnosed by your doctor based on physical symptoms and indicators. Dehydration can also lead to low blood pressure, an elevated heart rate, decreased blood flow to the extremities, and low blood pressure while getting up from a reclining to a standing posture.

You could undergo further tests, such as the following, to assist confirm the diagnosis and determine the level of dehydration −

  • A blood test. Blood samples may be used to test for a variety of things, including your electrolyte levels, particularly salt, and potassium, and how effectively your kidneys are functioning.

  • Urinalysis. Urine tests can help determine if and how much you are dehydrated. They can also look for indicators of a bladder infection.

Dehydration: Treatment

The treatment is based on the severity of the symptoms. Your doctor may advise conservative or surgical treatment.

The only way to cure dehydration is to replenish lost electrolytes and fluids. The optimal method of treating dehydration varies on the patient's age, the degree of their condition, and the underlying reason.

Use an over-the-counter oral rehydration solution for babies and kids who have been dehydrated due to diarrhea, vomiting, or fever. These solutions restore fluids and electrolytes by combining water and salt in a precise ratio.

Every one to five minutes, start with roughly a teaspoon (5 milliliters) and gradually increase as tolerated. For extremely young children, using a syringe could be simpler. Sports drinks might be diluted for older kids. Mix 1 part water with 1 part sports drink.

The majority of individuals who experience mild to moderate dehydration due to diarrhea, vomiting, or fever may get better by consuming more water or other liquids. Full-strength fruit juice and soft beverages may make diarrhea worse.

Dehydration: Prevention

Drink lots of water and consume meals high in water, such as fruits and vegetables, to avoid being dehydrated. For the majority of healthy people, following the daily rule of following your thirst is sufficient.

If a person has ailments like these, they may need to drink extra fluids −

  • Diarrhoea or vomiting. At the first indication of illness, start giving your kid additional water or an oral rehydration solution if he or she is vomiting or has diarrhea. Don't wait until you become dehydrated.

  • Strenuous activity. In general, it's recommended to start hydrating the day before the hard activity. You're properly hydrated if you're urinating a lot of clear, diluted pee. Drink fluids at regular intervals throughout the activity, and once it is over, keep drinking water or other liquids.

  • Whether it's hot or freezing. To assist reduce your body temperature and replenish the water your body loses via perspiration, you should consume more water when it's hot or humid outside. To fight moisture loss from dry air in cold weather, especially at higher elevations, you might need to drink more water.

  • Illness. Dehydration is most frequent in older persons following mild illnesses such as the flu, bronchitis, or bladder infections. When you're feeling under the weather, remember to drink more water.


Your body will get parched if you are dehydrated because of the fluids you have lost. This might be a result of physical activity, hot weather, or any underlying illnesses. Dehydration may happen suddenly and become serious if you don't recognize it in time and make sure your body gets adequate water.

Dr. Durgesh Kumar Sinha
Dr. Durgesh Kumar Sinha


Updated on: 18-Apr-2023


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