What is Dehydration: What Causes Dehydration?

The human body suffers from dehydration when it has not received an adequate intake of liquid to function properly, or when the loss of water from the body exceeds the intake. We lose water from our body by sweating, urinating, and exhaling when we breathe. Physicians recommend that an adult intake at least eight full glasses of water on a daily basis to insure that the body has an adequate supply of water to function properly. Many people living in hot and humid areas face this problem to a critical extent and should adjust their take of water to compensate for the extreme heat. A person can live without food for a long period of time but cannot survive without water for extended time. The ultimate result of dehydration is death. About 70% of the diseases in the world are associated with water intake.

Dehydration has been classified in three stages. These stages are mild, moderate, and severe dehydration. To compensate for mild and moderate dehydration, increase your intake of water. When the body has lost about 2% of its total fluid, some symptoms of mild dehydration which include dry mouth, thirst, loss of appetite, fatigue or weakness, and dark colored urine may be present. When the body loses about 5% of its total liquid, the individual may experience increased respiration and heart rate, fever, headaches, and nausea. Mild to moderate dehydration is common. However, you may not always feel thirsty. It is possible to be dehydrated without feeling thirst. Waiting until you feel thirsty, may mean that you are already dehydrated. So drink up and be sure to stay well hydrated. When the body loses 10% of its body fluid, the individual requires IMMEDIATE medical attention. Some common symptoms of severe dehydration include vomiting, muscle spasms, confusion, and difficulty breathing. Other symptoms may be present as individuals differ.


Dehydration is especially dangerous for babies and older adults. Babies and young children have a higher metabolic rate; therefore, their bodies require more water to function properly. Due to an immune system that is not fully developed, young children are more susceptible to conditions associated with diarrhea and vomiting which result in a loss of fluids. Older adults can experience dehydration due to a number of conditions. Medical problems, lack of interest, certain medications that increase urination, kidney disease, or lack of supervision can contribute to the onset of dehydration in older adults.

It is always advisable to check with your family physician to evaluate the patients level of dehydration and the underlying cause to determine the best treatment plan.

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