Your doctor can often diagnose dehydration on the basis of physical signs and symptoms such as little or no urination, sunken eyes, and skin that lacks its normal elasticity and resilience when pinched. If you're dehydrated, you're also likely to have low blood pressure, especially when moving from a lying to a standing position, a faster than normal heart rate and reduced blood flow to your extremities.
To help confirm the diagnosis and pinpoint the degree of dehydration, you may have other tests, such as:
- Blood tests. Blood samples may be used to check for a number of factors, such as the levels of your electrolytes — especially sodium and potassium — and how well your kidneys are working.
- Urinalysis. Tests done on your urine can help show whether you're dehydrated and to what degree.
If it's not obvious why you're dehydrated, your doctor may order additional tests to check for diabetes and for liver or kidney problems.
Feb. 12, 2014
- 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.
- Canavan A, et al. Diagnosis and management of dehydration in children. American Family Physician. 2009;80:692.
- 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.