Dehydration – 30 Symptoms, 12 Causes, and 12 Treatments

Are you dehydrated? Headache, faint, nauseated, fatigued.  How do you know? What causes it and what are the symptoms? When is it serious? You may be surprised at what you discover in this informative and important article.


Dehydration is a lack of total body water, while disturbing the body’s basic metabolic processes. If a person is stressed due to exercise, disease, or high temperature, the free water loss may exceed the free water intake resulting in dehydration.


Dehydration can vary from mild, moderate or severe. Mild or moderate dehydration symptoms can include:

  1. Dry flaky skin
  2. Dry eyes, with few or no tears
  3. Urine is more yellow than usual
  4. Decreased urine output
  5. Headache
  6. More tired or sleepy than usual
  7. Dry mouth
  8. Increased thirst
  9. Dizziness
  10. Nausea
  11. Vomiting
  12. Sunken cheeks
  13. Sunken eyes

If these mild or moderate symptoms continue, they may develop into more severe dehydration symptoms such as

  1. Urine, is dark, golden yellow, gold brown or amber color
  2. No urine
  3. Unable to walk normally because of dizziness or feeling lightheaded
  4. Shock
  5. Kidney stones or kidney failure
  6. Low blood volume
  7. Rapid heart rate
  8. Fever
  9. Blood pressure drops when the person tries to stand after lying down (very low blood pressure)
  10. Fatigue, lethargy
  11. Confusion or delerium
  12. Severe vomiting
  13. Poor skin elasticity (when pinching the skin, it slowly sinks back to its normal position)
  14. Unconsciousness
  15. Seizure
  16. Organ failure
  17. Coma



Up to 75% of the body’s weight due to H2O. This water in the body is primarily within the body cells. The remaining water is found in the blood vessels and the spaces between cells. When more water leaves the body than is being taken into the body, we become dehydrated. What can you do? 

Dehydration can be caused by physical situations or circumstances or medical conditions. The primary causes of dehydration are:

  1. Diarrhea
  2. Vomiting
  3. Sweating
  4. Adrenal gland disorder
  5. Diabetes (symptoms are fatigue, frequent urination, and thirst)
  6. Burns
  7. Inflammatory disease
  8. Lack of fluidsAlcohol and depression
  9. Alcoholism
  10. Higher altitudes
  11. Cystic fibrosis
  12. Kidney disease



Dehydration can be treated or prevented by taking some basic precautions, such as the following:

  1. Avoid caffeine (tea, coffee, soda, etc.)
  2. Eat plenty of fruits
  3. Eat plenty of vegetables
  4. Avoid alcohol consumption
  5. Carry a personal fan in hot weather
  6. Avoid exercise and over-exertion in hot temperatures
  7. Find air-conditioned or shady areas in hot weather
  8. Know the signs and symptoms of dehydration and seek help
  9. Drink electrolyte replacement fluids (Pedialyte, Gatorade, etc.)Doctor and patient
  10. Get regular checkups with a trusted health professional, and get tested to rule out medical causes
  11. Know that young infants and elderly are especially susceptible and check to be sure they are hydrated
  12. If a person has symptoms of severe dehydration and is taken to the emergency room or hospital, they might require IV (intravenous) fluids and urgent medical attention. Act responsibly and immediately.

Take precautions to prevent dehydration.  If you believe that you, or a friend or family member is dehydrated,  seek medical attention immediately and/or take steps to hydrate yourself or your loved ones.  Dehydration should not be taken lightly. Severe dehydration can  result in brain damage, organ damage, heart or kidney failure, stroke and/or death.




Byock, Ira R. M.D., “Patient Refusal of Nutrition and Hydration: Walking the Ever-Finer Line.” American Journal Hospice & Palliative Care, pp. 8–13. (March/April 1995)

Dart, Jean (2012) Water: It’s Not Just Fun and Games,  Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance, WordPress

Dehydration at eMedicine Medscape. Retrieved October 15, 2017

Dehydration Risk factors – Mayo Clinic” Retrieved October 15, 2017

llershaw JE, Sutcliffe JM, Saunders CM (April 1995). “Dehydration and the dying patient”J Pain Symptom Manage10 (3): 192–7.

Noakes, Timothy David (2010). “Is Drinking to Thirst Optimum?”Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism. 57 (s2): 9–17.

Wedro, Benjamin. “Dehydration”MedicineNet. Retrieved October 15, 2017


Jean E. DartJean Dart, M.S. Special Education from Illinois State University, is a published author and has written hundreds of health articles as well as hosting a local television program, “Making Miracles Happen.” She is a Registered Music Therapist, Sound Therapist, and Master Level Energetic Teacher, and is the Executive Director, founder, and Health and Wellness Educator of the Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance, a 501(c)3 health education nonprofit organization. All photos used in this article are by unless otherwise noted. To find out more about our Health Educators, or to apply as a Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance writer or volunteer, visit our website at

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