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Dehydration is a topic covered in the 5-Minute Pediatric Consult.

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  • Dehydration is a pathologic state of negative fluid balance in the body. Severity is generally expressed as a percentage of body weight. Mild, moderate, and severe dehydration correspond to volume loss of <5%, 5–10%, and >10%, respectively.
  • Dehydration can also be classified as isotonic (Sodium [Na] 130 to 150 mmol/L), hypotonic (Na <130 mmol/L), or hypertonic (Na >150 mmol/L).
  • Dehydration can be the result of a wide range of illnesses.
  • Accurate clinical recognition and classification of dehydration determines rehydration treatment options.


  • Globally, dehydration from diarrheal illness is one of the leading causes of mortality in children <5 years old.
  • Incidence of moderate to severe dehydration in the United States has declined since the introduction of routine rotavirus immunization.
  • Despite a reduction in morbidity attributed to routine rotavirus vaccination, >100,000 children per year are hospitalized in the United States for dehydration from diarrheal illness.


Dehydration is caused by either excessive fluid and salt losses or inadequate intake of fluids.


  • Common sources of fluid loss include
    • GI losses: vomiting, diarrhea (most common cause of dehydration in pediatric patients)
    • Renal losses: diabetes mellitus, diabetes insipidus, diuretics
    • Insensible losses: sweating, fever, tachypnea, increased ambient temperature, large burns
  • Common causes of inadequate fluid intake include
    • Pain from stomatitis, pharyngitis, herpangina, oral trauma
    • Anorexia or malaise
    • Altered mental status
    • Inadequate access to fluids or neglect

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Cabana, Michael D., editor. "Dehydration." 5-Minute Pediatric Consult, 8th ed., Wolters Kluwer, 2019. Pediatrics Central, peds.unboundmedicine.com/pedscentral/view/5-Minute-Pediatric-Consult/617525/all/Dehydration.
Dehydration. In: Cabana MD, ed. 5-Minute Pediatric Consult. 8th ed. Wolters Kluwer; 2019. https://peds.unboundmedicine.com/pedscentral/view/5-Minute-Pediatric-Consult/617525/all/Dehydration. Accessed April 23, 2019.
Dehydration. (2019). In Cabana, M. D. (Ed.), 5-Minute Pediatric Consult. Available from https://peds.unboundmedicine.com/pedscentral/view/5-Minute-Pediatric-Consult/617525/all/Dehydration
Dehydration [Internet]. In: Cabana MD, editors. 5-Minute Pediatric Consult. Wolters Kluwer; 2019. [cited 2019 April 23]. Available from: https://peds.unboundmedicine.com/pedscentral/view/5-Minute-Pediatric-Consult/617525/all/Dehydration.
* Article titles in AMA citation format should be in sentence-case
TY - ELEC T1 - Dehydration ID - 617525 ED - Cabana,Michael D, BT - 5-Minute Pediatric Consult UR - https://peds.unboundmedicine.com/pedscentral/view/5-Minute-Pediatric-Consult/617525/all/Dehydration PB - Wolters Kluwer ET - 8 DB - Pediatrics Central DP - Unbound Medicine ER -