Dehydration history and symptoms

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [2] Associate Editor(s)-in-Chief: Saumya Easaw, M.B.B.S.[3]


Symptoms may include headaches similar to what is experienced during a hangover, a sudden episode of visual snow, decreased blood pressure(hypotension), and dizziness or fainting when standing up due to orthostatic hypotension. Untreated dehydration generally results in delirium,unconsciousness, swelling of the tongue[4] and in extreme cases death.

Dehydration symptoms generally become noticeable after 2% of one's normal water volume has been lost. Initially, one experiences thirst and discomfort, possibly along with loss of appetite and dry skin. This can be followed by constipation. Athletes may suffer a loss of performance of up to 30%[1], and experience flushing, low endurance, rapid heart rates, elevated body temperatures, and rapid onset offatigue.

Mild Dehydration

Symptoms of mild dehydration include thirst, decreased urine volume, abnormally dark urine, unexplained tiredness, lack of tears when crying,headache, dry mouth, and dizziness when standing due to orthostatic hypotension.

Moderate Dehydartion

In moderate to severe dehydration, there may be no urine output at all. Other symptoms in these states include lethargy or extreme sleepiness, seizures, sunkenfontanel (soft spot) in infants, fainting, and sunken eyes.

Severe Dehydration

The symptoms become increasingly severe with greater water loss. One's heart and respiration rates begin to increase to compensate for decreased plasma volume and blood pressure, while body temperature may rise because of decreased sweating.

  • Around 5% to 6% water loss, one may become groggy or sleepy, experience headaches or nausea, and may feel tingling in one's limbs (paresthesia).
  • With 10% to 15% fluid loss, muscles may become spastic, skin may shrivel and wrinkle, vision may dim, urination will be greatly reduced and may become painful, and delirium may begin.
  • Losses greater than 15% are usually fatal.



  1. Bean, Anita (2006). The Complete Guide to Sports Nutrition. A & C Black Publishers Ltd. pp. pp. 81-83. ISBN 0713675586.