Causes of Dehydration
The Two Main Ones
Nancy Hearn, CNC

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The two main causes of dehydration are simple:

  1. Losing too much water and
  2. Not drinking enough water.

Most often, it is a combination of the two main causes of dehydration.

In my experience, most people simply do not drink enough water daily—for a number of reasons.

People tell me they don’t like the taste of water. Or they forget to drink water. Or they prefer other beverages.

Or people assume they get enough water from their food. Or they say drinking water makes them urinate too frequently.

Whatever the reasons, the cumulative effect over time of not drinking water is chronic dehydration. And the consequences are impaired bodily functions, toxin accumulation, stagnation of bodily fluids, and so many other hidden effects.

Excess Water Loss from Illness or Exercise

In addition to the daily loss of water through normal bodily functions, there are many situations that can cause acute dehydration, especially illnesses that involve diarrhea, vomiting, blood loss, and sweating from fever or intense exercise.

Thus, drinking plenty of fluids, especially water, during an illness or prolonged exercise is very important.

Another important reason to drink water during an illness is to flush toxins out of the body and keep the bodily fluids clear and running smoothly. Even slight dehydration will most likely cause the illness to last longer.

When children are sick, they tend to refuse to eat or drink anything while losing fluid from vomiting, diarrhea or fever. This makes them more susceptible to dehydration.

Thus, it is critical for parents to know the signs and symptoms of dehydration in infants and small children.

5 Acute Causes of Dehydration

  1. Excessive sweating: The body can lose huge amounts of water when it is trying to cool itself through sweat. Excessive sweating can happen with a fever induced by illness, while doing physical work in a hot environment (like the scorching summers in Phoenix, Arizona) or from exercise in a warm environment. For example, in warm outdoor weather, a vigorous walk can produce up to 16 ounces of sweat.
  2. Diarrhea and/or vomiting: The most common acute cause of dehydration is diarrhea because a significant amount of water is lost with each bowel movement. According to, each year more than four million children die of dehydration because of diarrhea. Huge amounts of water are also lost through vomiting. To make matters worse, most people who have this type of illness are not able to keep fluids down. Thus it is difficult to replace the water loss.
  3. Excessive urination: People may experience this primarily with the uncontrolled use of diuretics or with diabetes. When diabetes in uncontrolled, the elevated blood sugar levels can trigger frequent urination and electrolyte imbalance, which can cause dehydration. This is why excessive thirst and frequent urination are common symptoms of diabetes.
  4. Burns and skin diseases: Our skin is the largest organ of elimination. When the skin is damaged due to burns or skin inflammatory diseases, bodily fluids permeate into the damaged skin. The additional loss of fluids can lead to dehydration in other parts of the body.
  5. Inability to drink water: This occurs most often when someone has an illness that causes vomiting and is not able to tolerate any fluids without more vomiting. Nausea and loss of appetite due to illness is another reason. Sores in the mouth or throat are also common reasons. And of course, the lack of availability of water is one the most significant causes of dehydration in many parts of the world.

Reference; Dehydration: Symptoms, Causes and Treatments; 2017.

Return from Causes of Dehydration to Dehydration Effects

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