Diet and Nutrition

What Causes Dehydration?

What Causes Dehydration?

Key Takeaways

  • A remarkable water loss and electrolyte loss can occur when diarrhea that is very serious and acute takes place.
  • Your body can get dehydrated if you partake in energetic tasks and fail to substitute the water.
  • Some drugs, like those for blood pressure and diuretics, can also be the cause of dehydration, since they make you sweat or pass out urine a lot more than normal.

Hydra means water and de-hydra is not enough water. A human being will have 60% water in his body. Even if 1.5 to 2% of that water is lost, mild dehydration will start, which can lead to severe dehydration requiring immediate medical attention. Because your mood, energy levels, and coordination all deteriorate with the loss of body fluids, it is important to stay hydrated at all times.

Where there is no adequate water to substitute that which is lost during the day, dehydration takes place. Dehydration can at times develop for simple causes: either you are busy or ill and fail to drink adequate water, or you do not have access to safe drinking water while hiking, camping, or traveling. Dehydration is caused by not drinking enough liquids or by losing more body fluids than you take in. Fluid is lost through sweat, tears, vomiting, urine, and diarrhea.

Dehydration means the water that the body is taking in is less compared to that which is coming out of the cells and body.

Water is lost daily in our bodies when we breathe out and through urine, stool, and sweat. Small quantities of salt are also lost alongside the water.

The body gets dehydrated when a lot of water is lost, and death can occur in the case of severe dehydration.

Dehydration can also be as a result of the following.

Vomiting or diarrhea

Remarkable water loss and electrolyte loss can occur when diarrhea is very serious and acute. More minerals and water are lost when the diarrhea is accompanied by vomiting. Infants and children are particularly at risk for this. A viral or bacterial infection, a bowel disorder, sensitivity to food, or a reaction to drugs can lead to diarrhea.


You will become more dehydrated as your fever continues to rise. More water will be lost if your fever is accompanied by vomiting and diarrhea.

A lot of sweating

When you sweat, your body loses water. Your body can become dehydrated if you partake in energetic tasks and fail to substitute the lost water. You will lose more water if the weather is hot and humid, since you will sweat more. During the winter, dehydration can still occur if you fail to substitute water that has been lost. Teens and preteens who take part in sports may be particularly prone to dehydration, the reason being the small weight of their bodies and because they have no knowledge on indicators of dehydration.

A lot of urination

This can happen in cases of diabetes that has not been diagnosed or that cannot be controlled. Some drugs, like the ones for blood pressure and diuretics, can also be the cause of dehydration, since they make you sweat or pass urine a lot more than normal.

Who has a higher chance of dehydration?

These people include:

  • Infants and babies - Because of their small body weight, even losing little quantities of water affects them.
  • Aged people - They do not know dehydration is taking place and that they require an intake of fluids.
  • Individuals suffering from sicknesses that are long-term - This includes conditions like alcoholism or diabetes.
  • Sportspersons - They lose large quantities of water through sweating.


During exercise, one can likely overhydrate, and this is termed as hypernatremia. It is a result of low levels of salt in the blood. When a lot of water is consumed within a short time, this can take place.

Athletes with low levels of salt in their blood as a result of sweating and those who consume large quantities of water are affected by hypernatremia.

Hypernatremia symptoms include a headache, nausea, and vomiting. The brain can become engorged in severe cases, leading to coma, seizures, confusion, and even death.

When you should visit the doctor

Immediately visit the doctor if you develop any of the following:

  • High fever (101° F or higher)
  • Weakness
  • Loss of weight
  • Diarrhea lasting for 2 days or longer
  • Vomiting that is persistent for a day or longer
  • Minimized production of urine
  • Confusion

 You will be taken to the emergency section of the hospital if the following takes place:

  • Confusion
  • Sluggishness
  • Seizures
  • Headache
  • High fever (more than 103° F)
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Lack of urine in the past 12 hours
  • Pain in the chest and abdomen

It is important to drink water – the simplest form of liquid which has good amounts of minerals in it - regularly to replace lost fluids. Children and teenagers are particularly at risk, because they may not know or they may ignore the symptoms of dehydration in their play and activities. A few reasons for dehydration have been given below.

  1. Diabetes  - patients with sugar complaints visit the bathroom often, since the kidneys try to get rid of the excess glucose in the body through urine. Hence, the body becomes dehydrated.
  2. Alcohol – frequent drinking of alcohol can cause dehydration, since the visits to the bathroom become more frequent, since alcohol is a diuretic.
  3. Athletes – workouts, long time spent in the sun, and exercising can cause dehydration.
  4. Babies, infants, and older people - may not recognize that they are dehydrated. Hence, they need to be looked after and monitored.
  5. Women during their monthly periods – the hormones estrogen and progesterone act on the body’s fluid levels during this time. Staying hydrated with good amount of fluids works well. Women who have heavy periods need to be very careful, too, and the fluid intake should increase.
  6. Blood pressure – if you have been prescribed with diuretics to help you with your high blood pressure, which will increase the urine output, extra fluid intake will help.
  7. Stress – if you are constantly under pressure or stress, the adrenal glands start functioning insufficiently, which will trigger dehydration and low electrolyte levels. Increasing fluid intake will improve this condition for the short term, but in the long run, take care to reduce stress and pressure.
  8. Irritable bowel syndrome – nausea and chronic diarrhea are the effects of IBS, which in itself is a terrible condition. Along with this, dehydration occurs, too. People tend to stop the intake of fluids, fearing more trouble with their bowel, but staying hydrated is the key to overcome this condition gradually.
  9. Dietary supplements - these should be consumed only on the prescription by a medical practitioner or a physician, since these can cause severe dehydration, too.

Finally, drink up that extra glass of water every day without hesitation, even if you are not thirsty. Along with water, there are few foods to keep you hydrated: cucumber, tomatoes, watermelon, citrus fruits, tender coconut, broccoli, lettuce, cabbage, and spinach. These all have high water content.

In case you do not have access to drinking water, carrying any of these items while you are traveling, hiking, or working out will allow you to quench your thirst and will keep you hydrated.