Dehydration: Symptoms and Harmful Effects

Water is an critical and essential element of the body. Proper hydration is necessary to allow the body to function. Water makes up up to 75% of the body’s weight. This water is divided as:

Total body water = Intracellular space + Intravascular space + Interstitial space


occurs when the amount of water consumed or taken in is lesser than the amount of water leaving the body. Serious consequences have to faced, if the lost fluids are not replenished. A person has to drink a specified amount of water to make up for this loss of water. The loss in water occurs when we:

  • urinate or have a bowel movement. This eliminates the body of waste by-products.
  • Sweat to lower the body temperature
  • breathe and humidified air goes out

Harmful Effects of Dehydration

  • Dry skin
  • Kidney problems
  • Irregular blood-pressure
  • Muscle cramps
  • Constipation
  • Migraine
  • Tiredness
  • 20% dehydration poses a risk to death

Symptoms of Dehydration

Mild to moderate dehydration may cause:

  • Lightheaded
  • Headache
  • Muscle Weakness
  • Rare tear drops when crying
  • Less urine output
  • Thirst
  • Tiredness or sleepiness
  • Dry, sticky mouth

Severe dehydration which is a medical emergency may cause the following conditions:

  • In serious cases, unconsciousness or delirium
  • Fever
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Low blood pressure
  • Sunken fontanels in infants a�� these are soft spots present on the top of baby’s head
  • Dry and shriveled skin that has lost elasticity
  • Sunken eyes
  • Little or no urination a�� color of the urine produced is dark amber or yellow
  • Less or no sweating
  • Very dry mucous membranes, skin and mouth
  • Extreme sleepiness or fussiness in children and infants; confusion and irritability in adults
  • Extreme thirst

The best parameter to check is the color of the urine: light-colored or clear urine signals that you are hydrated. A dark amber or yellow color signifies dehydration. Also, feeling thirsty is not a reliable way to know the body’s crave for water, mainly in older adults and children.

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