All Children's Hospital Logo

Health Information Library

Parents > A to Z > D > A to Z: Dehydration
A to Z: Dehydration

A to Z: Dehydration

Dehydration occurs when someone loses more fluids than he or she takes in. When this happens, the body can't function properly.

More to Know

People most susceptible to dehydration are infants, children, older adults, and people with illnesses. However, anyone can be affected by dehydration.

Common causes of dehydration include inadequate fluid intake, diarrhea, fever, vomiting, excessive sweating due to hot temperatures or intense physical activity, and uncontrolled diabetes.

Signs and symptoms include a dry or sticky mouth; thirst; few or no tears when crying; eyes that look sunken into the head; dry, cool, or wrinkly skin; lethargy; and dizziness. Someone with dehydration will produce very small amounts of dark yellow or amber-colored urine.

Mild to moderate dehydration usually can be self-treated at home by drinking more liquids. Severe dehydration, however, is a medical emergency and must be treated with IV (intravenous) fluids in the hospital.

If you see signs of severe dehydration — such as extreme thirst, lack of sweating, rapid heartbeat, low blood pressure, delirium, or unconsciousness — go to the emergency room immediately.


Keep in Mind

Staying hydrated can help prevent dehydration, especially when someone is sick, physically active, or exposed to high temperatures.

All A to Z dictionary entries are regularly reviewed by KidsHealth medical experts.

Related Articles
K    "Stomach Flu"
K    A Kid's Guide to Fever
P    Dehydration
T    Dehydration
P    Diarrhea
P    First Aid: Dehydration
T    Gastrointestinal Infections and Diarrhea
P    Heat Illness
K    How to Be Safe When You're in the Sun
T    Is It Important to Drink a Lot of Water?
T    The Flu: When to Get Help
P    Vomiting
K    What's the Big Sweat About Dehydration?
K    Why Drinking Water Is the Way to Go
K    Word! Dehydration
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
© 1995-2015 KidsHealth® All rights reserved. Images provided by iStock, Getty Images, Corbis, Veer, Science Photo Library, Science Source Images, Shutterstock, and

Additional Info

Pocket Doc Mobile App
Maps and Locations (Mobile)
Programs & Services
For Health Professionals
For Patients & Families
Contact Us
Find a Doctor

All Children's Hospital
501 6th Ave South
St. Petersburg, FL 33701
(727) 898-7451
(800) 456-4543

Use Normal Template
© 2015 All Children's Hospital - All Rights Reserved