In physiology and medicine, dehydration (hypohydration) is defined as the excessive loss of body fluid. It is literally the removal of water (Ancient Greek: ὕδωρ hýdōr) from an object; however, in physiological terms, it entails a deficiency of fluid within an organism. Dehydration of skin and mucous membranes can be called medical dryness.
There are three types of dehydration: hypotonic or hyponatremic (primarily a loss of electrolytes, sodium in particular), hypertonic or hypernatremic (primarily a loss of water), and isotonic or isonatremic (equal loss of water and electrolytes). In humans, the most commonly seen type of dehydration by far is isotonic (isonatraemic) dehydration which effectively equates with hypovolemia, but the distinction of isotonic from hypotonic or hypertonic dehydration may be important when treating people who become dehydrated.
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. At 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 (decreased skin turgor), vision may dim, urination will be greatly reduced and may become painful, and delirium may begin. Losses greater than 15% are usually fatal.
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