Understanding Dehydration; Causes, Symptoms, Signs & Management


Every year, an estimated 75% of the population suffers from some level of dehydration, though it is often relatively mild. Signs and symptoms of dehydration would depend on the age, gender, and presence of other disease or clinical condition. Children are at greater risk of dehydration due to a higher water content of the body.

Doctors would often describe dehydration as mild, moderate, or severe. Signs and symptoms of mild to moderate dehydration would differ a lot from the severe form of dehydration. Severe dehydration can be life-threatening when it is left untreated.

1Understanding dehydration

Dehydration features a reduction of water levels in our body; it occurs when the loss of water surpasses our fluid intake. Water is a universal solvent and is essential for life. Two-thirds of the human body is made up of water, and this vital fluid is required for all body functions, from digestion to the normal beating of the heart.

Our bodies produce a minimal amount of water, but the majority of new water molecules come from the fluid in foods and drinks we take every day. We also lose water every day via the intestines, urine, skin, and lungs. Symptoms of mild dehydration start to show after losing 1-2% of body water. The first and most crucial sign/symptom of dehydration is thirst. However, if we are not able to meet what the body needs by drinking enough water, other signs start to appear.

When you are unable to keep yourself hydrated, the blood starts getting thicker. The body tries to compensate by forcing the heart to work harder and telling your kidneys to stop water excretion. It also increases body temperature. Low levels of water in the brain can make you feel drowsy, dizzy, and affect your mood and cognition.