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Frequently Asked Questions

What are the symptoms of dehydration? The degree of dehydration is graded according to signs and symptoms that reflect the amount of fluid lost:
  • In the early stages of dehydration, there are no signs or symptoms.
Early features are difficult to detect but include dryness of mouth and thirst.

As dehydration increases, signs and symptoms develop. These include: thirst, restless or irritable behaviour, decreased skin turgor, dry mucous membranes, sunken eyes, sunken fontanelle (in infants), and absence of tears when crying vigorously.
symptons of dehydration


Symptoms of early or mild dehydration include:

  • flushed face
  • extreme thirst, more than normal or unable to drink
  • dry, warm skin
  • cannot pass urine or reduced amounts, dark, yellow
  • dizziness made worse when you are standing
  • weakness
  • cramping in the arms and legs
  • crying with few or no tears
  • sleepy or irritable
  • unwell
  • headaches
  • dry mouth, dry tongue; with thick saliva.

In severe dehydration, these effects become more pronounced and the patient may develop evidence of hypovolaemic shock, including: diminished consciousness, lack of urine output, cool moist extremities, a rapid and feeble pulse (the radial pulse may be undetectable), low or undetectable blood pressure, and peripheral cyanosis. Death follows soon if rehydration is not started quickly. Symptoms of moderate to severe dehydration include:

  • low blood pressure
  • fainting
  • severe muscle contractions in the arms, legs, stomach, and back
  • convulsions
  • a bloated stomach
  • heart failure
  • sunken fontanelle - soft spot on a infants head
  • sunken dry eyes, with few or no tears
  • skin loses its firmness and looks wrinkled
  • lack of elasticity of the skin (when a bit of skin lifted up stays folded and takes a long time to go back to its normal position)
  • rapid and deep breathing - faster than normal
  • fast, weak pulse


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updated: 21 April, 2014

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