What is the pathophysiology of dehydration?

Updated: Dec 07, 2018
  • Author: Lennox H Huang, MD, FAAP; Chief Editor: Timothy E Corden, MD  more...
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Answer

The negative fluid balance that causes dehydration results from decreased intake, increased output (renal, gastrointestinal [GI], or insensible losses), or fluid shift (ascites, effusions, and capillary leak states such as burns and sepsis). The decrease in total body water causes reductions in both the intracellular and extracellular fluid volumes. Clinical manifestations of dehydration are most closely related to intravascular volume depletion and the physiologic compensation attempts that takes place. As dehydration progresses, hypovolemic shock ultimately ensues, resulting in end organ failure and death.


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