Everyone needs water and electrolytes (minerals, such as sodium and potassium, that help with many body functions) to be healthy. Normally, your body automatically balances your level of water and electrolytes. Drinking gives you what you need, and being thirsty tells you when you need to drink.
Dehydration is having too little water in your body.
Dehydration happens when your body loses more water than it takes in
Certain medicines or diseases (such as diabetes) that make you urinate a lot can cause dehydration
Throwing up, diarrhea, and sweating a lot from hot weather or heavy exercise also can cause dehydration
Older people and young children are more likely to become dehydrated
Severe dehydration makes you confused, light-headed, and weak
Dehydrated people need fluids and electrolytes either by drinking or sometimes by vein (IV)
Without treatment, severe dehydration can cause death
You get dehydrated when you lose fluid and don't replace enough of it.
Common causes of losing fluid:
Usually if you lose fluid, you'll just drink more to replace it. But sometimes you can't drink enough fluid.
Common reasons people can't drink enough fluid:
Symptoms of mild to moderate dehydration:
Symptoms of severe dehydration:
Light-headedness or fainting, especially when you stand up
Shock (dangerously low blood pressure) and severe damage to organs such as the kidneys, liver, and brain
As you lose water, your blood becomes more concentrated and has more electrolytes (such as sodium) in it.
When possible, doctors treat the cause of your dehydration. For example, if you have vomiting or diarrhea, they'll have you take medicine to stop it. At the same time, they'll have you replace the lost water in your body.
For mild dehydration:
Sports drinks aren't harmful, but they aren't the best liquid to treat dehydration. They have too much sugar and don't have the right balance of electrolytes.
For moderate or severe dehydration:
People used to think taking salt tablets helped. But salt tablets aren't necessary and can be harmful.