If you're an average adult, every day you lose more than 10 cups (close to 2.5 liters) of water simply by sweating, breathing and eliminating waste. You also lose electrolytes — minerals such as sodium, potassium and calcium that maintain the balance of fluids in your body. Normally, you can replenish what you've lost through the foods and liquids you consume, even when you're active.
- Lack of adequate water intake, because you're sick or busy, or because you lack access to potable water when you're traveling, hiking or camping, mouth sores, uncosciousness etc.
- increased losses due to Diarrhea, vomiting, excessive sweating in hot and humid conditions, fever, diabetes due to increased urination, excessive respiration like in pneumonia, burns, etc.
- Renal failure, addison’s disease and other similar conditions too can lead to increased urination thus leading to dehydration.
- Certain medications — diuretics, antihistamines, blood pressure medications and some psychiatric drugs — as well as alcohol also can lead to dehydration, generally because they cause you to urinate or perspire more than normal.
As the patient becomes more dehydrated - irrespective of the cause - symptoms include: weight loss (2-3 pounds per day), dryness of the mouth, decreased production of saliva, impaired swallowing, shrinkage of tissue, dry/wrinkled skin, headache, raised pulse, shrunken eyes, and fever. As dehydration and salt loss progresses, blood output from the heart decreases, while sweating may cease entirely. Body temperature then rises precipitously. If urination falls too low in response to the dehydrated condition of the body, the kidney becomes unable to excrete toxic waste products. The combined effect of high temperature, reduced blood output and kidney malfunction is irreversible shock and death. Typically this occurs in previously healthy adults after a water loss of about 12-15 liters (3-3.75 gallons), but may occur much more quickly in the very young or very old.
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