Extreme Dehydration Is Serious
Know the Symptoms and What to Do

by Merlin Hearn

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Extreme dehydration occurs when body water levels drop rapidly below normal.  

Due to the body’s fundamental need for water, this level of dehydration is a serious condition that will require immediate medical attention and sometimes a visit to the hospital.

Because of the rapid decrease of body fluids, severe dehydration usually means a person has to take measures to replenish fluids beyond normal consumption in order to re-hydrate.

Thus, it is important to be able to first recognize the symptoms and then take appropriate action.

Symptoms of Extreme Dehydration

  • Decreased urine output.  If there is any urine at all, it will usually be a dark yellow or amber color
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Decreased skin elasticity (when pinched, the skin takes a while to go back to normal state)
  • Blood pressure drops when standing
  • Fever
  • Seizure
  • Shock
  • Lethargy, confusion, or coma

When to Call Your Doctor

  • Vomiting continue for more than a day
  • Fever remains between 101° F. and 103 ° F. 
  • Diarrhea remains for more than a day
  • Weakness
  • Decreased urine production
  • Weight loss

When to Get Emergency Care

  • Fever higher than 103° F.
  • Confusion
  • Lethargy
  • Headaches
  • Chest Pain
  • Seizures
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Fainting
  • No urine production in last twelve hours

How to Replenish Fluids

When someone has one or more of these symptoms of extreme dehydration, it is important to try to regain fluids and electrolytes as quickly as possible.

To get these fluids back, a person should:

How to Lower Body Temperature

  • Rapid dehydration usually occurs when a person overheats. To cool a person down, it is essential to:
  • Get him out of the heat
  • Put him in an air-conditioned room, if possible, or turn a fan on him
  • Remove any excess clothing
  • Avoid treating him with ice packs or ice water. This can constrict the arteries and blood vessels, making rehydration harder. In addition, a person placed in an excessively cold room will shiver, increasing body temperature, and dehydration.

If a person cannot be re-hydrated at home, he or she should be taken to a hospital. At the hospital, the doctor’s main purpose will be to re-hydrate the person and determine the cause of the dehydration. 

If the person is not vomiting or feeling nauseous, she can start ingesting fluids. But, if moderate or severe dehydration symptoms persist, an IV is often administered.

If the patient has a high fever, it is helpful to cool her down with cooling blankets, a bath, or a cool mist.


If not treated quickly, extreme severe dehydration can lead to the shut down of certain bodily functions, resulting in a seizure, coma, or even death.

For this reason, it is important to know the symptoms of severe dehydration and what to do when a person loses fluids too quickly. 

Return from Extreme Dehydration to Dehydration Effects

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