Dehydration can lead to serious complications, including:
Feb. 12, 2014
- Heat injury. If you don't drink enough fluids when you're exercising vigorously and perspiring heavily, you may end up with a heat injury, ranging in severity from mild heat cramps to heat exhaustion or potentially life-threatening heatstroke.
- Swelling of the brain (cerebral edema). Sometimes, when you're getting fluids again after being dehydrated, the body tries to pull too much water back into your cells. This can cause some cells to swell and rupture. The consequences are especially grave when brain cells are affected.
- Seizures. Electrolytes — such as potassium and sodium — help carry electrical signals from cell to cell. If your electrolytes are out of balance, the normal electrical messages can become mixed up, which can lead to involuntary muscle contractions and sometimes to a loss of consciousness.
- Low blood volume shock (hypovolemic shock). This is one of the most serious, and sometimes life-threatening, complications of dehydration. It occurs when low blood volume causes a drop in blood pressure and a drop in the amount of oxygen in your body.
- Kidney failure. This potentially life-threatening problem occurs when your kidneys are no longer able to remove excess fluids and waste from your blood.
- Coma and death. When not treated promptly and appropriately, severe dehydration can be fatal.
- Dehydration in children. The Merck Manuals: The Merck Manual for Healthcare Professionals. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/pediatrics/dehydration_and_fluid_therapy_in_children/dehydration_in_children.html?qt=&sc=&alt=. Accessed Aug.19, 2013.
- Somers MJ. Clinical assessment and diagnosis of hypovolemia (dehydration) in children. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Aug. 17, 2013.
- Sterns RH. Etiology, clinical manifestations, and diagnosis of volume depletion in adults. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Aug. 17, 2013.
- Diarrhea. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/diarrhea/. Accessed Aug. 18, 2013.
- Popkin BM, et al. Water, hydration, and health. Nutrition Reviews. 2010;68:439.
- Selecting and effectively using hydration for fitness. American College of Sports Medicine. http://www.acsm.org/docs/brochures/selecting-and-effectively-using-hydration-for-fitness.pdf. Accessed Aug. 16, 2013.
- Rodriguez NR, et al. Position of the American Dietetic Association, Dietitians of Canada, and the American College of Sports Medicine: Nutrition and athletic performance. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. 2009;41:709.
- Montain SJ. Hydration recommendations for sport 2008. Current Sports Medicine Reports. 2008;7:187.
- Thomas DR, et al. Understanding clinical dehydration and its treatment. Journal of the American Medical Directors Association. 2008;9:292.
- Niescierenko M. Advances in pediatric dehydration therapy. Current Opinion in Pediatrics. 2013;25:304.
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- Sterns RH. General principles of disorders of water balance (hyponatremia and hypernatremia) and sodium balance (hypovolemia and edema). http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Aug. 17, 2013.
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