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Dehydration in Infant/Neonate
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Dehydration in Infant/Neonate

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Contributors: Michael W. Winter MD, Jamie Adams MD
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Dehydration is a condition of low water volume in the body that causes electrolyte imbalance and impairs normal organ and tissue function. Common causes are vomiting and diarrhea as well as fever and profuse sweating, often due to infection, bleeding, and burns, combined with decreased or absent fluid intake. Pediatric patients are at greater risk due to higher surface area to volume ratio and increased incidence of gastrointestinal illness. Young children and infants who are unable to identify and communicate thirst (or access fluids on their own) are particularly vulnerable. Underlying conditions such as cystic fibrosis and type 1 diabetes mellitus (diabetic ketoacidosis) are additional risk factors.

Diagnosis of dehydration may be suspected by percentage weight loss greater than 3% weight and changes in osmolality. The most common presentation of dehydration is hypernatremia.

Volume depletion (hypovolemia) can be caused by water loss or by salt and water loss. Isotonic dehydration occurs from balanced sodium and water loss, such as in fasting. Hypertonic dehydration is caused by imbalance created when fluid loss is greater than sodium loss, resulting in hyperosmolality and hypernatremia.

Signs and symptoms of mild to moderate dehydration include tachycardia, oliguria, orthostatic hypotension, dry mucous membranes, decreased skin turgor, increased respirations, polydipsia, and irritability. Severe and life-threatening dehydration may additionally manifest as decreased blood pressure, sunken eyes or cheeks, anuria, cyanosis, shallow pulse, fasciculations, loss of consciousness, and coma.


E86.0 – Dehydration

34095006  – Dehydration

Differential Diagnosis & Pitfalls

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Drug Reaction Data

Below is a list of drugs with literature evidence indicating an adverse association with this diagnosis. The list is continually updated through ongoing research and new medication approvals. Click on Citations to sort by number of citations or click on Medication to sort the medications alphabetically.

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Last Updated: 08/10/2017
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Dehydration in Infant/Neonate
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Dehydration (Older Child/Adult) : Fatigue, Oliguria, Poor skin turgor, Tachycardia, Polydipsia
Clinical image of Dehydration
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