Dehydration Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

Dehydration – Symptoms, Causes and Emergency Room Treatment

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What is Dehydration?

Dehydration happens when your body uses more water than you are drinking. The result is your body doesn’t have enough water or other fluids to carry on its normal functions. Mild dehydration is easy to reverse – simply drink more water. Severe dehydration, on the other hand, requires immediate treatment.

During hot weather or in times of illness, the body may not have the amount of fluids it needs to function properly. Sweating, fever, vomiting and diarrhea deplete the body of fluids and can cause medical emergency.

Dehydration can be a major problem in most cities in Texas including Houston, Sugar Land, Austin and College Station, TX. If you have become overheated and are experiencing the symptoms of dehydration, you should visit the emergency room near you immediately to make sure you do not pass out or have other severe side effects of being dehydrated.

Our 24-hour emergency rooms treat dehydrated patients. Our board-certified physicians are available 24/7 and wait times in our ER is 10 minutes or less.

Symptoms of Dehydration

Dehydration is not always obvious and there is usually no reliable indication that your body needs water. Most older people, for instance, do not always feel thirsty until it may be too late and they are already dehydrated. That is why it is essential that you drink water when the weather is hot or during illness.

Here are a few symptoms of dehydration that you should be aware of. Go to the nearest emergency room immediately if you notice any of these symptoms of dehydration.

Signs of Dehydration in Adults

  • Extreme thirst
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue or excessive tiredness
  • Dark-colored urine
  • Less frequent urination or less urge to urinate

Signs of Dehydration in Children

  • Irritability or listlessness
  • Sunken eyes
  • Dry mouth or tongue
  • Lack of tears when crying
  • Sunken cheeks
  • Diapers not wet after three hours
  • Sunken soft spot on top of head

Causes of Dehydration

Sometimes dehydration results because you are just too busy or you forget to drink enough water. Other times, it could happen because you are traveling, hiking or you are just in a place where you do not have access to safe drinking water. Whatever the reason, here are a few factors that can cause medical emergencies.


Severe Diarrhea – Severe diarrhea can cause you to lose a lot of water in a short amount of time. A sudden onset of diarrhea may be caused by a reaction to medication, food disorders, food poisoning, a bacterial infection or a viral infection.

This can quickly lead to severe dehydration and should be addressed by a medical professional as quickly as possible.

Vomiting – Loss of water from vomiting may be from sickness or a reaction to food or medicine. Vomiting that is coupled with sudden onset of diarrhea raises the risk for severe and sudden dehydration.

Fever – When there is a fever, the human body uses fluids to fight it off. The higher the temperature rises the more fluid your body uses. If fever is associated with vomiting or diarrhea, there is an increased risk for dehydration, especially in the very young and the elderly.

Increased Urination – This symptom may indicate an underlying medical condition that has yet to be diagnosed. Signs of increased urination may lead to dehydration and should be discussed with a medical professional.

Chronic Illness – Having a chronic illness means that the body has to work harder to maintain fluid levels. Those with chronic cough, diabetes, heart disease, liver disease, and other conditions need to stay properly hydrated.

Excessive activity

Sweating – Participation in sports or working out in humid weather can lead to excessive sweating. If fluids are not replaced during the activity, the body’s fluid level can become depleted and you could become dehydrated. This is especially a concern for children and young adults as they may not know the warning signs of dehydration.


Children and infants – Young children are more likely to experience diarrhea. Additionally, a young child may not be able to communicate the warning signs of dehydration such as dry mouth, headache, dry skin, sleepiness, or constipation.

Elderly – As people age, the ability of the body to conserve water is reduced. This factor combined with medical conditions such as diabetes or dementia can lead to a depletion of water in the body. It is important that elderly people take care to hydrate even when eating smaller and fewer meals.

Other factors – When living at or visiting a higher altitude, breathing rate and rate of urination may increase. These factors can lead to dehydration.

When to seek medical Treatment for Dehydration

Signs of dehydration include feelings of thirst, little urination, irritability of children, lack of tears when crying, headache, and constipation. If you or your children are experiencing any of these symptoms, visit SignatureCare Emergency Center ERs for complete medical examination, diagnosis and treatment.

Visit our emergency room immediately if you are experiencing the following:

  • Eyes that appear sunken
  • Skin that has no elasticity
  • Rapid heartbeat and breathing
  • Sunken soft spot on a baby’s head
  • Low blood pressure
  • Delirium

Dehydration can lead to very serious medical complications. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, please visit one of our emergency room locations in Houston (Montrose, Heights, Memorial City), Stafford, Sugar Land, Austin and College Station TXWe are here to help you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Schedule an emergency room appointment.