Mouth | General Practice | Dehydration (Disease)


Dehydration is a condition in which the bodys cells are deprived of an adequate amount of water. Water makes up about 70% of the muscles, organs and tissues in the body and is crucial to many of the bodys processes.

There are three types of dehydration: hypotonic or hyponatremic (primarily a loss of electrolytes, sodium in particular), hypertonic or hypernatremic (primarily a loss of water), and isotonic or isonatremic (equal loss of water and electrolytes). In humans, the most commonly seen type of dehydration by far is isotonic (isonatraemic) dehydration which effectively equates with hypovolemia, but the distinction of isotonic from hypotonic or hypertonic dehydration may be important when treating people who become dehydrated.

In a normal day, a person has to drink a significant amount of water to replace this routine loss. The formula for daily fluid requirements depends upon an individuals weight.

Symptoms of dehydration vary between individuals depending on the underlying cause. Dehydration symptoms can be acute and appear relatively suddenly, such as during or after an illness involving repeated vomiting and diarrhea. Dehydration can also be ongoing and chronic, such as when a person does not drink enough fluids because of a fear of incontinence (loss of bladder control). Symptoms of dehydration include: dry lips and tongue; dry skin ; mild headache; thirst.

Causes and Risk factors

A person with dehydration does not have enough water in the body, in order to function properly. Dehydration can be caused by frequent urination, sweating, diarrhea, or vomiting. Symptoms depend on the severity of the dehydration. Dehydration is more common in infants and the elderly.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Drinking fluids is usually enough for mild dehydration. It is better to drink small amounts of fluid often (using a teaspoon or syringe for an infant or child). Drinking too much fluid at once can bring on more vomiting. Electrolyte solutions or freezer pops are very effective. These are available in pharmacies. In infants and children, avoid using water as the primary replacement fluid. Intravenous fluids and a hospital stay may be needed for moderate to severe dehydration. Most cases of stomach viruses (also called viral gastroenteritis) tend to get better on their own after a few days. ...