Dehydration occurs when the balance of fluids in the body is too low—the output becomes greater than the intake. Dehydration itself may cause symptoms like a headache, dark urine, dry skin, dizziness, tiredness, irritability, or confusion. In severe cases, it can even lead to unconsciousness or death.
While mild symptoms may be treated at home simply by drinking fluids, more severe cases, especially those involving children or the elderly, may require hospitalization in order to prevent the more serious issues that can arise from untreated dehydration.
If the body goes too long without receiving necessary liquids, the cells overreact when the finally get it. They try to take in too much water at once to replace what they’ve lost. This is especially dangerous for the brain cells, who are just as deprived as any other part of the body. Any cell can rupture and burst from the swelling of such sudden amounts of fluid, which is not good for brain cells that don’t grow back like the rest of the body.
Additional brain issues can be caused by seizures from the dehydration. Electrolytes like sodium are lost during extreme sweating or vomiting and diarrhea. These electrolytes are in charge of carrying electrical signals. When there isn’t enough of them around, the signals can be lost or confused. Muscle convulsions may result, and even the extreme confusion and unconsciousness that comes with seizures.
Since too much heat causes increased sweating, dehydration can result in serious, heat related injuries. Cramping of the limbs because of the lack of blood bringing oxygen to the muscles may occur. Heat exhaustion may result, with extreme sweating and a high pulse rate, along with the cramping. Even heat stroke can appear, the most serious of the heat related illness, which causes a fever and potential unconsciousness.
One of the more serious bodily responses to the lowered amount of blood flowing through the body is hypovolemic shock, which is a very serious complication of dehydration. It causes the blood pressure to drop and may also lead to organ failure. In short, the complications of dehydration can lead to a coma or ultimately be fatal if not treated promptly and properly.