Overview of Dehydration

Dehydration occurs when your body does not have enough water to maintain its usual functions. This happens when your water intake is not enough to replace your water loss. Excessive sweating, intense breathing due to vigorous activities, and hot weather can cause dehydration. Other common causes include vomiting, diarrhea, and fevers. Mild to moderate dehydration often does not require hospitalization. Severe cases of dehydration may require treatment from emergency personnel.


The body needs water to carry out a large variety of processes in the body. If your body is dehydrated, it cannot function properly and there can be several short-term and long-term consequences.

Signs and Symptoms

Mild or moderate dehydration can lead to:

  • a dry or sticky mouth or tongue
  • thirst
  • dark-colored urine or decreased urination
  • dizziness, nausea, headaches
  • dry skin, including chapped lips
  • constipation
  • sleepiness or tiredness

Severe dehydration can lead to:

  • inability to sweat or produce tears
  • extreme thirst
  • little to no urine production
  • rapid heartbeat or low blood pressure
  • fevers
  • unconsciousness

What Can Be Done

The simplest and most effective way to treat dehydration is to increase the amount of water and fluids in the body. Most cases of mild or moderate dehydration can be resolved with the oral intake of water. More severe cases of dehydration may require intravenous (IV) hydration, where water and electrolyte levels are replenished through a vein, which would take effect much more quickly than by oral intake.

A simple method to keep yourself hydrated is to keep a water bottle with you at all times and sip it throughout the day. For more tips and advice on keeping yourself hydrated, read our blog post Staying Hydrated.

How We Can Help

If you would like to be seen by our medical staff, please contact our Appointment Desk to schedule an appointment. Also, our 24/7 Advice Nurse service is available at no charge for all UC Davis students to discuss health concerns and the need for medical care.