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Women's Health

Dehydration

12/17/2009

Question:

I have had diarrhea for 5 weeks now and nothing seems to help. My sister was in a car accident last night so I cried but there was no tears. I am also dizzy and tired. I have been drinking alot of fluids but I don`t think that it might not be enough. Are they symptoms of dehydration and what are the other symptoms?

Answer:

Dehydration is due to a combination of loss of water and loss of electrolytes (salts). Symptoms vary depending upon the degree of dehydration, and include the following: dry mouth, dry lips, lightheadedness upon standing, fast heart rate (90 or higher), low blood pressure, and fatigue (tiredness).

My concern for you is the length of diarrhea - having this for 5 weeks is not normal. Also, it would be easy to lose potassium with diarrhea, which can also cause your symptoms. The types of fluids you drink are important. You should be drinking fluids that have a salt and sugar balance to them; sports drinks (such as Gatorade, for example) are best.

As your diarrhea has lasted so long, you should see a doctor to 1) investigate the diarrhea, and 2) check some labs to make sure your potassium and other electrolytes are okay.

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Response by:

W. Fred Miser, MD W. Fred Miser, MD
Professor of Family Medicine
Director of Ohio State Medicine Residency Program
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University