What does Dehydration Mean

By Dr. Julia Lizy, MBBS, KEMU

What does dehydration mean


Dehydration is when the body doesn’t have the needed amount of water or other fluids.

It usually begins when the intake of water is lower than the amount of water exiting the body. Outflow is usually through urination, defecation or sweat.

Sweating may be caused by high ambient temperature, exercise, or a disease. Numerous diseases have symptoms of vomiting and diarrhea, resulting in a loss of fluids.

The three classifications of dehydration

In analyzing what dehydration truly means, it can be classified into three categories.

  • Mild dehydration is usually the result of not drinking enough water or other fluids. One can easily recover within few days by drinking 8 to 10 glasses of water a day.

  • Moderate dehydration is generally the result of a sickness. To recover, increase water intake and get the help of a doctor to overcome the illness. 

  • Severe dehydration occurs when the causes of mild or moderate dehydration are not addressed properly. Severe dehydration may be life threatening, and the patient needs immediate medical treatment.

Problems caused by dehydration

  • When dehydration is in the first stage it can cause one to feel laziness and fatigue, and also cause blood pressure to drop.

  • Next a person feels there is an onset of illness that can continue day by day.

  • Some individuals feel mental and physical tension.

Symptoms of dehydration

  • Fatigue

  • Less sweat

  • Low blood pressure

  • Laziness

  • Dry to sticky mouth

  • Headache

  • Fever

  • Feeling of thirst

  • Constipation

  • Less urination, if the urine comes out from the body it tends to be a dark yellow than the normal situation.

Those at a higher risk of dehydration

  • Chronic illness may deplete body fluids and place one in jeopardy of severe dehydration.

  • Caffeine and alcohol are diuretics. Excessive consumption of coffee, tea, soft drinks, energy drinks and alcoholic beverages can result in an excessive amount of water being flushed from the body through urination.

  • An imbalance of electrolytes may also result in excessive fluid loss, as water and electrolytes are the two most essential components for the body.

  • Dehydration poses a grave risk to babies and young children, since their body fluids are more easily depleted through vomiting and diarrhea.

  • Second, a parent or guardian may not realize that a child is becoming dehydrated, or they don’t know how to properly respond to the problem.

How to discern dehydration in babies

  • Look for a drop in the amount of urination. How many wet diapers do they have in a day?

  • Look to see if the child produces tears when it cries. No tears may be an indication of dehydration.

Prevention from dehydration

Unless one is experiencing vomiting and diarrhea, prevention is usually as easy as increasing the intake of fluid into the body.

  • Under normal circumstances, an adult should drink 2 to 3 liters of fluid per day, mostly water.

  • Hot summer days can result in a lot of sweating, requiring an increase in water intake.

  • Exercising causes us to sweat, and working or playing in the heat of the day is worse, requiring major rehydration along with electrolyte replacement.

Since tiredness may indicate dehydration, let it be a signal to check to see if you are getting enough fluids.

Consider perspiration as another signal from your body that you need to drink more. (see home remedies for dehydration)

Treatment of dehydration

The easiest treatment of dehydration in the mild and moderate form of dehydration is to drinking electrolyte rich water.

For severe dehydration, the patient needs proper medical attention, which may include receiving fluid through an IV.

A doctor may also treat the deficiency through glucose, juices, other medical fluids and medicines.

Conclusion, what does dehydration mean

For most people, preventing or overcoming dehydration is as simple as increasing fluid consumption and in more serious cases electrolyte replacement.

Most people should be able to overcome dehydration without a visit to the doctor. When dehydration is caused by vomiting and diarrhea, then a visit to the doctor is recommended.

When coming in from the heat or when you perspire a lot, increase fluid intake appropriately.

In the case of excessive, consider if caffeine or alcohol are the cause. If so, cut back on these fluids or increase water consumption to replace water loss.

If excessive urination is not caused by a diuretic, you need to discuss the problem with your doctor.

(Return from What Does Dehydration Mean to Chronic Dehydration Symptoms)

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