Which physical findings suggest dehydration in patients with diarrhea?

Updated: Jan 31, 2020
  • Author: Stefano Guandalini, MD; Chief Editor: Carmen Cuffari, MD  more...
  • Print
Answer

The following may be observed:

  • Dehydration

    • Dehydration is the principal cause of morbidity and mortality.

    • Assess every patient with diarrhea for signs, symptoms, and severity.

    • Lethargy, depressed consciousness, sunken anterior fontanel, dry mucous membranes, sunken eyes, lack of tears, poor skin turgor, and delayed capillary refill are obvious and important signs of dehydration. Table 3 below details dehydration severity and symptoms.

    Table 3. Dehydration Severity, Signs, and Symptoms (Open Table in a new window)

    Hydration

    0-5% Dehydration

    (Mild)

    5-10% Dehydration

    (Moderate)

    10% or More

    (Severe)

    General

    Well

    Restless

    Lethargic

    Eyes

    Normal

    Sunken

    Very sunken

    Tears

    Present

    Absent

    Absent

    Mouth

    Moist

    Dry

    Very dry

    Thirst

    Drinks normally

    Thirsty

    Drinks poorly

    Skin

    Pinch retracts immediately

    Pinch retracts slowly

    Pinch stays folded


Did this answer your question?
Additional feedback? (Optional)
Thank you for your feedback!