Medical Minute: Dehydration, Causes, Treatment

dehydration

The human body is 60-70% water. The brain and heart are composed of 75% water and the lungs are composed of 85% water. Dehydration is defined as water loss that exceeds the amount of water you take in.

A 10 percent water loss can be life-threatening and can lead to seizures or respiratory arrest and cardiac arrest.

Dehydration causes the blood to thicken, which causes low blood pressure. Low blood pressure signals the brain to increase the heart rate to compensate. Respiration’s will increase to deliver more oxygen to the brain. All of these processes will lead to more severe dehydration, seizures, respiratory and heart complications if not treated immediately.
 

How Does Dehydration Occur?

Dehydration is the loss of water through physiological processes such as urination, sweating, vomiting, diarrhea, and even breathing.

Just a 5 percent water loss can cause discomfort, headache, dizziness and generalized weakness.

Statistically, most heart attacks occur during the morning hours. This is because the body is in a mild state of dehydration by not taking in water for 6-8 hours during the night.

Imagine going 8 hours — from 9-5 — without drinking anything at all. That’s how depleted the body is when you wake up in the morning.

Your first glass or bottle of water should be immediately after waking up. Leave a glass of water or a bottle of water on your nightstand to remind you.

benefits of drinking water

Doctors recommend drinking 8 cups of water per day. That is equal to four 16 ounce bottles of water. If you’re not sure how much water to drink per day, or if you have a medical condition that limits your water intake, consult your health care provider. 

bottled water
 

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Dehydration?

The first signs and symptoms of mild dehydration are thirst, headaches, dizziness, and dark colored urine.

The more serious symptoms are shown below.

dehydration signs and symptoms

Remember that dehydration occurs when you don’t drink enough water to replace the water you lose through normal physiological processes such as sweating, urinating or breathing (respirations).

Urine Color

Your urine color is another indicator of your hydration status. When you urinate, look in the bowl to see what color the water is.

Check the chart below. If the water in the bowl is the color of #1, 2, and 3, you are hydrated. If the water in the bowl looks like #7 or 8, you are probably dehydrated and should drink water AND check to see if you have the other signs and symptoms listed above.

urine chart

If you have dark urine plus the symptoms above, you should contact your health care provider!
 

What is Electrolyte Imbalance?

Electrolytes are very important to maintain electrical impulses across all cell membranes. The cells in the heart, brain and muscles need the proper balance of electrolytes to receive electrical impulses.

The main three electrolytes in the blood are Potassium, Sodium (salt), and calcium.

Electrolyte imbalance is usually not seen in mild cases of dehydration.

Electrolyte imbalance usually occurs when there is a large loss of water volume from the body such as through excessive sweating, blood loss, excessive vomiting or excessive diarrhea.

The body can be mildly dehydrated without a loss of electrolytes because the kidneys work to maintain the proper balance of electrolytes.

Athletes lose electrolytes in the form of potassium and sodium as they sweat. Drinking a rehydrating solution that contains sugar, potassium and salt will replace the loss of water and electrolytes. An example of a rehydrating solution is Gatorade.

Also, people who have an addiction to laxatives are at increased risk for electrolyte imbalance.
 

How is Dehydration Treated?

The first treatment of choice for mild dehydration is drinking water or drinking a rehydration solution such as Gatorade.

Moderate to severe dehydration are treated by rehydrating the body with hydration fluids such as normal saline which contains 0.9% sodium chloride.

Normal saline contains 2 of the electrolytes that the body needs: sodium and chloride. Normal saline can be administered via intravenous IV infusion in the hospital or in the home by licensed health care providers.
 

benefits of drinking water

Doctors recommend drinking 6-8 cups of water per day (depending upon your weight, age and other factors). If you’re not sure how much water to drink per day, or if you have a medical condition that limits your water intake, consult your health care provider.

Severe cases of dehydration are treated in the emergency room by infusing fluids such as normal saline with potassium, D5W (water with sugar) or Lactated Ringer’s, which contains electrolytes.

This has been your Medical Minute.

DISCLAIMER

Any medical information published on this blog is for your general information only and is not intended as a substitute for informed medical advice. You should not take any action before consulting with your personal physician or a health care provider. Sandrarose.com and its affiliates cannot be held liable for any damages incurred by following information found on this blog.

Photos by Irina_Strelnikova / Getty Images, Zoviart / Getty Images, Antonio Guillem / Getty Images

  • jeniefrumdabloc™
  • Lovely1

    Thank you for this information. After reading reports on Kim Porter receiving saline and vitamins, I attributed this to her going into cardiac arrest. I feel like the doctor may have caused an imbalance with the amount of fluid pumped into her body and then, boom…Heart attack. Very good to know.

  • Trace da Ace

    Good to know…..my pee is a healthy pee…..so we good over here. :)

  • Dr. P

    My water intake is based on my weight. My Dr told me to drink half my body weight in water per day. 80 ounces

  • KcoolMuziq
  • Blaque Mahogany

    Someone mentioned John Gray a couple of posts below, and I am actually surprised Sandra is posting her as the pinnacle long suffering submissive wife that understands her husbands innate poly-amorous desires.

  • Shawty

    Good information. Duly noted!

  • Robert lee Bennett OG

    It’s a thing called water fasting…think about it as Africans our bodies evolved to go with out water for a longer period of time that the whites or Japanese who live in islands…. back in my other life when I was involved in combat sport less water made for better performance

  • SayWhatNow?

    I have to look at and smell other peoples pee all day at work and it is sooooo gross! I’m constantly reminding adults to drink more water and their excuse is water is nasty, but their urine is way past number 8 on that chart.

  • HotInCleveland

    Thanks for this info! Right after reading the article about Kim passing away, I screamed and ran downstairs to check on my man. He had a cold for the past week. My crazy ass started asking him a bunch of questions, taking his temperature and checking his lungs. Mind you, I’m not medically trained so all of that was probably useless. Kim’s passing had me shook. Right after reading the article about Kim passing away I screamed and ran downstairs to check on my man. He had a cold for the past week. My crazy ass started asking him a bunch of questions, taking his temperature and checking his lungs. Mind you, I’m not medically trained so all of that was probably useless. Smh. But this information I can forward along.

  • Yui

    I drink almost a gallon a day.

  • HotInCleveland

    smdh!

  • BingBangBoom

    Thanks for the info.. Question is does hot tea count towards the amount of water consumed? I drink a ton of that a day.

  • Yardgirl

    Thanks for this post Miss Sandra. This topic is near and dear to my heart. I have been hospitalized twice for dehydration. First time I walked in a carnival parade in extreme heat and passed out at the end. I had to get 3 bags of IV over the course of several hours. Second time I was sick at home with a bad cold and knew the symptoms so I drove myself to the ER and sure enough I got admitted.

  • MISSMEWITDATBULL

    Bless you for your service because I can’t imagine how you get through each work day!??

  • MISSMEWITDATBULL

    Bless you for your service because I can’t imagine how you get through each work day!??

  • MoniquetheGeek

    Yes, tea counts towards consumption.

  • MoniquetheGeek

    Aww Yardgirl. Hope you’re finding ways to hydrate yourself.

  • kree

    Thank you so much!

  • Yardgirl

    Thanks so much it’s really just keeping out of the heat more than just hydrate in my case because I drink a lot of water every day. I was in San Antonio for a wedding in June and it was 98+ every day!! I stayed some extra days to “see” the sights and let’s just say all i saw was the inside of my hotel room and area restaurants. I was like no way am I ending up in a hospital (and I did get woozy a couple of times!)?

  • http://www.kanzahsays.com ThatNigerianGirl

    This was helpful. I have always wondered why my grandmother drinks a cup of water every morning.

  • MoniquetheGeek

    Oh yea. I know a few people that passed away from heat stroke. Make sure you keep drinking water and taking care of yourself if you have to be in excessive heat for a long period of time.

  • Well$$Well$$?

    I didn’t know drinking a glass of water before a bath lowered your bp. Interesting read..

  • Whirl

    Oh wow this is good information. The things you can learn on a blog…. this explains why the nurse has me drink a cup of water and then retake my blood pressure. Very difficult for me to drink 8 cups of water per day. Just can’t do it. Thanks!

  • Yardgirl

    Awww thanks luv! People look at me like I am “exaggerating” when I say I have to get out of the heat. Heat stroke and heat exhaustion creeps up on you and for a lot of people it’s too late. Your kind words touched me, for reals. Bless up!

  • SunRiseBlossom

    Very informative… Thanks Tee-Tee Rose!!!

  • Fodderwing

    ?????

  • Quitedeliteful

    Way past number 8 and all they can say is water is nasty?!? They are crazy!!!

  • Quitedeliteful

    As soon as I wake up I have at least two cups of room temp water. If I get really thirsty I don’t feel well. I’m uncomfortable and aggravated. My urine is almost always the color of number 1. If it gets to the color of number 3 I make sure to drink some water.

  • Quitedeliteful

    Wow!!! You better carry a bottle of water with you at all times Yardgirl! We need you healthy and cutting up in this Rose Garden!!

  • Quitedeliteful

    I heard about this. Did drinking 80 ounces affect your weight?

  • Quitedeliteful

    You can always add lemon or lime or muddled fruits to water to make it taste better….

  • Yardgirl

    Lol thank you lovely lady!! I exercise regularly but am just succeptable to heat exhaustion. The struggle is real?

  • garrisonville

    this is great. very informative!

  • Applebootay

    NOW THIS IS A GOOD POST.

  • kennedy220

    i used to be addicted to caffeine. so my water was diet soda…i hate coffee. i craved it when i woke up, during the day, when i was going to bed…even realized i was spending too much on it when i got the idea in my head to calculate all the bodega bought individual bought sodas vs cases…i cut back..then i started again…it took the grocery store to go out of business next to my house to get me to stop…so i’ve been diet soda free for over a year now…i’ve had a few when i take road trips but not addicted. however, since i don’t drink it and don’t really like water i find that i have to remind myself to drink…this past summer i went to the beach and realized after being there all day i didn’t have to pee despite having a few bottles of water…i was dehydrated. my body was keeping what little water i drank…anyway i don’t know why i’m telling yall this lol but with this post maybe i’ll set up my phone to remind me to have a bottle of water or something. it’s 3pm and i’m only on my 2nd water since i woke up this morning.

  • ClaireHuxtable

    I thought I was having a heart attack one day! Nope…just dehydrated. It’s no joke.

  • ClaireHuxtable

    8 cups of Vodka would be easier to do.

  • ClaireHuxtable

    L0l@ I’m not medically trained so all of that was probably useless!

  • Blue

    I thought only celebrities got this!

  • SumthinSweeter

    The things you smell when your involved in patient care. I was a patient tech when I was in college and had to change adult diapers, do bowel programs, straight cath. This was almost 20 years ago and now when I walk anywhere near the patient floors in the hospital and smell a smell, I want to vomit. I am really impressed with my younger self but I could never go back into patient care ever unless I had no choice.

  • http://sandrarose.com SandraRose

    Celebrities get the mythical “exhaustion and dehydration.” ?

  • http://sandrarose.com SandraRose

    Aww, that was close! Always drink plenty of water. I drink 4 bottles a day plus soup and Spearmint tea.

  • http://sandrarose.com SandraRose

    I doubt she was on a continues saline drip. He may have given her a small bag of saline with antibiotics. Maybe the pneumonia was bacterial?

    But they did say she was getting saline with “vitamins,” so maybe he added potassium to the saline bag? Which would be crazy unless he drew her blood and got the results back the same day to make sure she wasn’t getting too much potassium.

    This is all speculation! But this is why it’s best to seek emergency care rather than having a private doctor visit at home.

  • http://sandrarose.com SandraRose

    That’s great. It’s hard for me to drink water, but I do it to see #1 or #2 urine. ?

  • Kay J

    Thank you for this detailed medical minute.

  • J2PC

    Feigning a coverup to hide what’s really going on. -but, no one buying it.?

  • luVn_liFe…

    dehydration is serious, I went thru a bout of being dehydrated.. just because I was BUZY.. I keep 32oz on me at all times now. By 6am Ive had 32oz by 9 ive had 96oz it is serious.
    by boss has been having constant headaches and feels awful lately. I asked her if she’s drinking enough water.. she said about 2 bottles a day.

  • http://sandrarose.com SandraRose

    Be careful. It sounds like you’re overdoing it. Water intoxication is just as serious as dehydration. When you drink too much water you dilute your electrolytes, particularly your sodium level, which can be instantly fatal. By the time you feel the symptoms of water intoxication, it’s too late.

  • Yardgirl

    Yes very close! I try to drink plenty of water but during the hot season i need to up my intake.

  • pure_rachet

    lol!!!

  • pure_rachet

    I go through that too. It’s not a good feeling. I have to be very careful.

  • pure_rachet

    I was straight hungover and went to the doctor in the morning and they made me take a pregnancy test and leave in the lab With the other pees. Let me tell you I was beat down but theirs were dark as hail. Straight brown like iced tea.

  • Yardgirl

    Sorry that you go through this too, It is truly awful!!

  • Blue

    ???

  • pure_rachet

    I have to keep taking breaks to sit and am dizzy as hell. My friends don’t wanna take me anywhere anymore. It’s hard so I hate you suffer too.

  • Yardgirl

    Girl I feel your pain but at least we take our health into our own hands. I don’t care what anyone says no is no because it’s too hot!! ?? Water and A/C is our best friend!

  • KLove

    I really need to start drinking water….my dad is on dialysis now, and i have NEVER seen him drink a glass of water…..i drink a lot of beer though…does that count??

  • Storm’s Rage!

    @realsandrarose:disqus: This is the best thing you have post ever! lol. With Winter around the corner its easy to consume less water. Thats why I have a gallon of water in my fridge. I put a couple of lemons in it (no sugar.lol) and I keep my cup filled. I also make sure, I drink several bottles of water a day.

  • Storm’s Rage!

    That is so true. I see people consuming a gallon of water a day. While this is admirable. It takes time to train your body to consume that much water on a daily basis.

  • http://sandrarose.com SandraRose

    Thanks for reading, hun. I agree that winter is the season when more people are prone to dehydration. But be careful drinking too much water. It can lead to water intoxication which causes instant death if you drink too much too fast.

  • Storm’s Rage!

    Yeah. Thanks for that tidbit bc people forget the lethal side effects of too much water consumption. Not to mentuon the frequent urinating (TMI). I know. Lol but, you have to do more health related posts. Lol

  • PrettyNetty28

    I had no idea. Thanks for this informative info @Sandra. I guess too much of one thing isn’t good for you.

  • http://sandrarose.com SandraRose

    No problem, hun.