Dehydration can have a varied etiology and occurs when the amount of water in the body is too low. The causes of dehydration include not drinking enough fluids, losing a large amount of fluids through sweating (especially when it is very hot), or through certain diseases that can cause abnormal fluid loss due to symptoms such as fever, vomiting or diarrhea. Diarrhea causes an increased loss of water and electrolytes, including sodium, chloride, and potassium. These episodes usually affect mainly children and elderly people and may also be the result of gastrointestinal diseases of bacterial, viral or parasitic origin. If these losses are not adequately replaced, a water and electrolyte deficit develops causing dehydration.

  • Diarrhea: Diarrhea means soft and watery stools more than three times a day, and may be accompanied by cramps, nausea, and swelling. Diarrhea can be caused by bacteria, viruses or parasites, food intolerances, certain medications and disorders that affect the stomach, small intestine or colon. During diarrhea, there is a greater loss of water and electrolytes.

  • Viral Gastroenteritis: Viral gastroenteritis is one of the most common diseases worldwide affecting both babies and children. It is known that viruses are responsible for 70% of cases of gastroenteritis, being an infection of the stomach and intestines which results in vomiting and watery diarrhea. It can be caused by different virus families being the most frequent the rotavirus and norovirus. In some cases vomiting and diarrhea may be accompanied by nausea, fever, abdominal pain, headache and muscle aches. Due to the large amount of fluid lost through vomiting and / or diarrhea during an episode of gastroenteritis, a case of dehydration may develop. The vast majority of gastroenteritis cases resolve on their own, because the body finds a way to neutralize the pathogen responsible for the disease. The treatment is not to fight the causative agent, but to prevent complications related to excessive loss of liquids. Unfortunately more than 4,000,000 children worldwide die every year from gastroenteritis due to lack of adequate treatment.


In cases of dehydration it is necessary to restore an adequate fluid and electrolyte balance in the body. However, it is necessary to know how to identify the problem and recognize the signs of dehydration. Thirst is an indicator of dehydration, but it is not one of the first signs of alarm.

It is necessary to pay attention to the following signs and symptoms: ¥ Dry and warm skin, Decreased urine volume and a dark yellow color due to higher concentration, Dizziness, Muscle weakness and tiredness, ¥ Cramps in the arms and legs, Few tears, Headache, Dry mouth and tongue, with thick saliva, Increase of cardiac frequency, As the condition progresses, the general condition worsens as more body systems (or organs) are being affected by the dehydration process.

Degree of dehydration:

  • Mild dehydration: It manifests itself after losing 1-2% of the volume of water and is characterized by the following symptoms: thirst, oliguria, darkening of the urine, fatigue, headaches and orthostatic hypotension.

  • Moderate dehydration: It manifests itself after losing between 2-6% of the volume of water and is characterized by presenting more severe symptoms than in the case of mild dehydration: Xerosis, asthenia, severe oliguria. Children have other symptoms such as sinking fontanelles, fainting, and sunken eyes.

  • Severe dehydration: With the loss of water, the symptoms become increasingly serious and are as follows: increased heart and respiratory frequency to compensate blood volume and also blood pressure reduction, paresthesia, muscles become spastic, blurred vision, shock, painful urination, brain damage and delirium. At this degree of dehydration the health of the individual is threatened and the loss of a quantity of water over 15% of the total volume of the body is usually deadly. All cases of severe dehydration must receive adequate hospital treatment, with the application of intravenous solutions.


Dehydration can negatively influence cognitive functions and motor control of individuals. There are numerous studies that relate poor hydration to a decrease in the physical and intellectual capacity of an individual, regardless of the reason that led to dehydration. Available evidence indicates that exercises in a hot environment (> 30 ° C) lead to dehydration between 2 and 7% of body mass, decreasing physical and intellectual abilities of people. When the level of dehydration reaches 7% under these conditions, the decrease in physical and intellectual capacities is around 40% of its capacity with normal hydration.