What is the difference between dehydration and volume depletion?

Updated: Nov 12, 2018
  • Author: Alex Koyfman, MD; Chief Editor: Muhammad Waseem, MS, MBBS, FAAP, FACEP, FAHA  more...
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The terms dehydration and volume depletion are commonly used interchangeably but they refer to different physiologic conditions resulting from different types of fluid loss. [1] Volume depletion denotes reduction of effective circulating volume in the intravascular space, whereas dehydration denotes loss of free water in greater proportion than the loss of sodium. The distinction is important because volume depletion and dehydration can exist independently or concurrently and the treatment for each is different. However, much of clinical literature does not differentiate between the 2 conditions; this article will therefore follow this convention and use the terms dehydration, hypovolemia, and volume depletion interchangeably to refer to intravascular fluid deficits here.

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