Dehydration: Symptoms & Signs

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

Symptoms and signs of dehydration can be minor, such as increased thirst, or severe and life-threatening, depending on the extent of the dehydration. Along with thirst, initial symptoms of dehydration include reduced urine output and darkening of the urine as it becomes more concentrated. If the condition progresses, other symptoms develop, including dry mouth, decreased perspiration, lightheadedness, muscle cramps, weakness, palpitations, and absent tear production by the eyes. The skin may feel cool and clammy. Confusion, organ failure, shock, and coma leading to death eventually occur if dehydration is not corrected.

Causes of dehydration

Any condition that causes reduced intake of fluid into the body or increased loss of fluid can cause dehydration. Common causes include vomiting, diarrhea, excessive sweating, diabetes, burns, and the inability, for any reason, to drink or take in fluids.

REFERENCE:

Huang, Lennox H. "Dehydration." Medscape.com. Nov. 27, 2016. <http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/906999-overview>.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/15/2017

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