Not drinking enough water can cause dehydration. Dehydration is an alteration in the body that is due to a loss or decrease in total body water. The human being contains 70% water in his body. If the volume of water decreases by 3% or more, it is considered dehydration. Dehydration can be a sign or symptom of another disease or an alteration of the body. Dehydration can be caused by multiple causes, some of them are:

  • Fever
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Diaphoresis
  • Thyroid pathologies.
  • Infections such as E. coli, Salmonella, Shygella, etc
  • Use of laxatives or diuretics.
  • Excessive physical exercise.
  • Alterations of electrolytes such as sodium, potassium and chlorine
  • Lactose intolerance.
  • Prolonged use of antibiotics that may cause Clostridium difficile diarrhea.
  • Insensible water loss, such as in respiratory tract.-        Increasing in diuresis
  • Infections caused by Entamoeba coli.

The symptoms and signs of dehydration are so varied and they present with fluid losses of more than 3% of the body’s total body water. Symptoms are manifestations of the disease described by the patient. Some dehydration symptoms are:

  • Intense thirst: This is because the body tries to replace the lost of liquid. For this reason sends the brain a message to increase water drinking and replace liquids.
  • Dry mouth: This is another symptom of dehydration. Due to the loss or reduction of body fluids, the oral membrane decreases salivation
  • Dry skin: Due to the decrease or loss of liquids the skin becomes dry, this decreases the elasticity of the skin
  • Dry eyes: Due to the decrease or loss of liquids, eyes become dry; this is because lachrymal glands do not have water to moisturize eyes.
  • Muscle cramps: Water is necessary for many cell cycles, one of them is the cycle of muscle cells, if there is a loss or decrease in total body water, this cycle can not be performed and muscle cramps occur.
  • Confusion: The brain needs high levels of water to be able carrying out its functions correctly. When decreasing water, the brain can not do their functions correctly.

Dizziness: The decreases body fluids cause the decrease in the flow of oxygen to the brain.
Alterations in blood pressure: Dehydration produces a low blood pressure due to the decrease of water in the blood.
Decreasing concentration capacity: Dehydration decreases the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain which causes a decrease in the capacity of concentration and memory.
Increasing stomach acid: Water acts as a buffer against stomach acid. When there is dehydration they increase the stomach acid levels and can produce gastric ulcers.
Respiratory infections: The respiratory tract is covered with mucus; dehydration decreases the mucus that lines the airways, increasing the risk of respiratory infections.
Eczema: Dry skin increases the risk of eczema outbreaks.
Headaches: The decrease in body fluid causes a decrease in blood flow to the brain, which causes headaches.
Dark urine: Dark urine is a great indicator of dehydration, when there is this alteration the urine turns orange or red.
Appetite: The dehydrated patient may have a loss of appetite or a desire to eat salty foods.
Less frequent urination:  The decrease in total body water decreases the frequency of urinations. The urine produced is concentrated and a deep yellow or orange.

The signs are the clinical manifestations of the disease and are seen by the doctor. Some signs of dehydration are:

Dry mouth, Dry eyes, Less than 500 cc of urine in 24 hours,     Irritability, Confusion, Disorientation, More than 5 liquid evacuations in 3 hours, Fatigue, Dizziness, Vertigo, Low or high blood pressure, Dark urine, Sunken soft spot on top of skull in children, No tears when children cry, Extreme thirst, Less frequent urination.

Dehydration can occur in different ways in children, adults or elderly. In children and elderly, dehydration can be fatal. Because in children and the elderly there are lower levels of total body water, while adults have 70% total body water, children and elderly have 60 or 65% of total body water, so dehydration affects them more.

Dehydration is classified according to its signs into 3 types. They are: Mild, moderate and severe. Each one has different signs, some of those signs are:

Mild Dehydration: Signs and symptoms that occur in mild dehydration are: tiredness, dry mouth, dry eyes, dry skin, fever, vertigo, and also decreased frequency of urination, thirst and low blood pressure. Mild dehydration occurs with fluid losses since 3% until 6% of total body water.

Moderate dehydration: Signs and symptoms that occur in moderate dehydration are: anuria (nothing urinates the patient), sunken fontanelles in children (Sunken soft spot on top of skull in children), lethargy, drowsiness, disorientation, irritability, dizziness, headaches, fever, dry skin and symptoms of mild dehydration but more acute. Moderate dehydration occurs with fluid losses since 6% until 10% of total body water.

Severe dehydration: Some signs and symptoms of severe dehydration are: Increased heart rate and respiratory rate too, increased or decreased blood pressure, hypovolemic shock, muscle cramps, painful urination (dysuria), dizziness, vertigo, fever, disorientation, irritability, absence of sweating also children cry without tears.  Severe dehydration occurs with fluid losses between 10 and 20% of total body water, if not treated in time can lead to hypovolemic shock and death.

If you have any of these signs and symptoms and have recently suffered from diarrhea, vomiting and fever in 24 hours, see your doctor.

The treatment of dehydration consists of the replacement of the lost liquids. It is performed by intravenous catheters with isotonic solutions such as the physiological solution. If you are at home, you should stop herbal drinks, soft drinks, coffee, packaged juices and Gatorade. Mainly, you have to drink water or oral hydration serums, which contain electrolytes.