Dehydration occurs when individuals lose more fluid than they can replace in their body. This can affect the normal function of the body because of imbalance in the minerals. In young children, dehydration can develop as the result of chronic diarrhoea and in adults, this can occur from various causes such as certain medications or various conditions. Dehydration can range from mild to severe based on the quantity of body weight loss through fluids. The mild to moderate cases can be rectified by fluid intake but the severe case requires medical treatment.


Dehydration is caused by the individual not taking enough fluid or unable to replace the lost fluid fast enough. The loss of fluid can occur through excessive sweating, urine, vomiting or diarrhoea which can result in loss of electrolytes over a short period of time. It can also develop as the result of various illnesses such as gastroenteritis, alcohol consumption and diabetes when the individual experience frequent urination.


The early indication of dehydration is thirst and dark-coloured urine. It is essential to increase fluid intake, particularly in hot weather to reduce the risk of dehydration. Among the young child or infants, the symptoms may include sunken eyes, irritability, dry nappies for more than three hours, dark yellow urine, drowsiness, dry mouth and tongue. In adults, the signs of dehydration include extreme thirst, dark coloured urine, fatigue, less urine output, confusion and dizziness. The chronic dehydration can cause muscle damage, constipation and increased the risk of kidney stones.


Dehydration may be diagnosed based on the physical symptoms evident. Individuals may also experience low blood pressure and rapid heart beats from dehydration. Diagnostic tests can include blood sample to identifying the levels of electrolytes and the function of the kidneys. The urine analysis can determine signs of bladder infection and the extent of dehydration.


The treatment of dehydration consists of rehydration by replenishing the fluids lost. Infants and children suffering from diarrhoea or vomiting may require oral rehydration that can replenish the lost electrolytes. Serving fruit juice during vomiting and diarrhoea can deteriorate the condition among children and should be avoided. Frequent intake of smaller amount of fluids may benefit children who continue to vomit. Individuals with severe dehydration require medical help and may be admitted in hospital as saline drip delivered intravenously provides the nutrients faster than oral intake.


Dehydration can develop serious complications that can include heat injury that ranges from heat cramps, heat exhaustion and fatal heatstroke. Severe or prolonged dehydration can create urinary tract infections and even kidney failure. A condition known as hypovolemic can develop when the decrease in blood volume causes low blood pressure that can result in the insufficient amount of oxygen in the body.