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8 Diseases That Can Cause Dehydration

For most Americans, it can be difficult to maintain proper hydration.

We all recognize its importance, but nearly 78% of Americans are considered to be in a state of chronic dehydration. In this article we will explore the link between dehydration and illnesses.

Lack of hydration can become even more severe for those diagnosed with certain diseases. These underlying conditions are known to prevent hydration even when proper attention is being placed on drinking water and having a high water-containing diet.

Even lifestyles void of physical exertion or excessive sweating may still experience improper hydration levels.

Let’s look at the diseases that can be causing dehydration.

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Diseases That Can Cause Dehydration

Celiac disease

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease that can damage the liver when gluten is consumed. It currently affects 1 in 10 people. This statistic does not take into account the millions in the United States that are still undiagnosed. In children, dehydration occurs due to diarrhea, a common symptom of celiac disease in their age range. Frequent diarrhea can cause a rapid, cumulative loss of fluid that children may find very hard to replenish.

In adults, celiac disease causes major vitamin and mineral deficiencies. The electrolyte imbalance this creates increases the likelihood of dehydration occurring. For example, without adequate sodium chloride in the body, cells cannot pull fluid into themselves, furthering the dehydration cycle.

Sjögren’s syndrome

An autoimmune disease that affects various parts of the body, Sjogren’s syndrome can affect glands that produce saliva and tears. When it comes to electrolytes and their role in eating, saliva plays an important role in our hydration. Sjogren’s syndrome affects two important pathways the body uses to regulate fluid levels and manage electrolyte balance.

Ulcerative colitis

This is a form of inflammatory bowel disease that targets the large intestine and colon. Inflammation in the lining of the colon creates discomfort and increases bathroom frequency. The bowel movements are often watery, akin to diarrhea. Paired with increased frequency, these bowel movements can dehydrate the body at a rapid rate if proper measures are not taken. In these cases it is important to take steps to manage dehydration.

Cystic fibrosis

Cystic fibrosis is a progressive genetic disease that causes continual lung infections and limits a patient’s ability to breathe normally. In regards to dehydration, a symptom of this disease is how it damages the cell’s ability to attract and position sodium chloride (NaCl), the component essential for drawing fluid into the cell. This leads to excessive salt loss when sweating. As with previous diseases listed, cystic fibrosis symptoms can cause a massive imbalance in electrolyte levels leading to dehydration.

Crohn’s disease

A type of inflammatory bowel disease. Crohn’s disease causes inflammation of your digestive tract, which can lead to a host of symptoms, including diarrhea.

Even if a patient is not experiencing diarrhea because the disease affects the digestive tract, drinking enough fluids may further the discomfort they feel. Because of this, it may prohibit them from taking in an adequate amount of fluid. Others may have difficulty absorbing fluids due to a part of their GI tract being surgically removed.


Tied to a group of diseases that affect how your body processes and manages glucose, diabetes can contribute to severe dehydration in diabetes patients. When an excess amount of glucose builds up in the blood, it forces the kidneys to kick into high gear to try and handle it.

When the kidneys get overloaded, the body goes into a form of crisis mode and excretes the extra glucose via urine. Dehydration in diabetes patients occurs when these fluids are pulled from tissues in order to create enough urine to bring the body back into balance.

POTs syndrome

Postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome affects the autonomic nervous system. This branch regulates heart rate, blood pressure, sweating, and body temperature. As it relates to dehydration, electrolytes play an important role in proper heart function. POTs syndrome kicks the heart into overdrive, requiring more electrolytes. If patients fail to replenish these minerals, prolonged elevated heart rate will lead to dehydration.


Cancer is a disease in which some of the body’s cells grow uncontrollably and spread. This disease can cause dehydration on two fronts. The first is due to the disease itself. The second is a result of the treatment of cancer.

Symptoms that contribute to dehydration may include vomiting, diarrhea, fever, bleeding, and loss of appetite. All of these could lead to major losses in the fluid required to maintain proper hydration balance. When it comes to the treatment of cancer, a tremendous amount of fluid can be lost during surgery. Chemotherapy often results in a loss of appetite, leading to less water consumption and eating water-based foods.

Addison’s Disease

Let’s delve into Addison’s disease, a rare yet significant hormonal disorder primarily affecting the adrenal glands atop the kidneys. These small triangular glands serve as the body’s command center for regulating various hormones crucial for maintaining overall health.

In the context of Addison’s disease, the adrenal glands struggle to produce adequate amounts of cortisol and aldosterone, two pivotal hormones in the regulation of stress, blood pressure, and the balance of sodium and potassium levels. When these hormones are deficient, the body exhibits a range of distress signals – one which is dehydration.

The association between Addison’s disease and dehydration predominantly revolves around aldosterone or its deficiency. Aldosterone plays a pivotal role in preserving the body’s equilibrium between water and electrolytes. In its absence, the kidneys fail to retain sodium as necessary, and potassium levels become elevated. This triggers a fluctuation in fluid and electrolyte levels, resulting in excessive fluid loss through urine and an increased sensation of thirst.

Managing this delicate balance of hydration demands a multifaceted approach. Firstly, it is crucial to maintain adequate fluid intake to compensate for the continual loss of fluids through frequent urination and perspiration. Sipping water and opting for replenishing beverages such as sports drinks or coconut water can help maintain fluid levels.

However, due to the diminished production of aldosterone, individuals with Addison’s disease must actively monitor their salt intake. This entails a more liberal use of salt and the consumption of salty foods to compensate for the hormonal shortfall.

Lastly, it is essential to remain vigilant for signs of dehydration, including unquenchable thirst, dry mouth, dark urine, or dizziness. If dehydration becomes severe, seeking medical attention, which may include hospitalization and intravenous fluid administration, can be instrumental in restoring the body’s equilibrium.


Let’s discuss gastroenteritis, commonly referred to as the stomach flu – an unwelcome intruder that can wreak havoc on your gastrointestinal system. This disruptive presence typically arises from viral or bacterial infections, although at times, it can be triggered by parasites or harmful toxins.

The symptoms of gastroenteritis are quite burdensome, encompassing diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal discomfort, and persistent nausea. What makes matters worse is that these symptoms can rapidly deplete your body of fluids, posing a significant risk of dehydration, particularly if you are a child, elderly, or have a compromised immune system.

Dehydration is the primary adversary in cases of gastroenteritis, and it can be insidious. Frequent bouts of diarrhea and vomiting deplete your body of vital fluids and electrolytes, upsetting its delicate balance. Swift action is imperative to combat dehydration effectively.

Rehydration is your most potent weapon against gastroenteritis and its accomplice, dehydration. This is where oral rehydration solutions come into play – they serve as the heroes of this narrative. Oral rehydration contains an optimal blend of water, electrolytes, and glucose, effectively replenishing your body’s fluid reserves. These invaluable solutions are readily available at most pharmacies and are simple to prepare at home. Consistently sipping throughout the day is crucial to restoring your hydration levels and preventing fluid loss.

You can also get an IV treatment specifically blended to combat the stomach flu. These infusions rehydrate your body and restore electrolytes, vitamins, and minerals lost due to vomiting and diarrhea. They may also contain anti-nausea and anti-inflammatory medications to help relieve symptoms without the need to swallow a pill.

In addition to rehydration, avoiding foods and beverages that can exacerbate your symptoms is essential. Spicy, greasy, and fatty foods can irritate your stomach and perpetuate diarrhea. Likewise, caffeinated or alcoholic beverages can lead to further dehydration, so it’s advisable to steer clear of them during your recovery.

If gastroenteritis persists or worsens, seeking professional medical attention is prudent. Severe cases may necessitate intravenous fluid therapy in a hospital setting to restore proper hydration. Vigilance for signs of dehydration, such as dark urine, dizziness, unquenchable thirst, or a persistently dry mouth, is crucial throughout this process.


Let’s talk about hyperthyroidism, a condition where your thyroid gland goes into overdrive and produces more thyroid hormone than you can handle. This little butterfly-shaped gland resides at the base of your neck and has a big job – it regulates your metabolism. H it can cause all sorts of havoc when it isn’t functioning properly.

Hyperthyroidism can be a mixed bag of symptoms – think rapid weight loss, an insatiable appetite, a racing heart, feeling like you’re on edge 24/7, being unable to stand the heat, shaky hands, and counting sheep instead of sleeping. Not everyone with hyperthyroidism will get the full menu of symptoms, and the intensity can vary from person to person.

The increased heat generated by your hyperactive metabolism, resulting in profuse sweating, can contribute to dehydration amid the turmoil caused by thyroid dysfunction. You’ll find yourself losing more fluids through perspiration and your kidneys become more active as well, likely resulting in increased visits to the restroom.

Some people with hyperthyroidism also get hit with diarrhea or a sudden urge for bathroom breaks. This can lead to even more fluid loss and put you at risk for dehydration. Dehydration can bring on dizziness, fatigue, a dry mouth, and less urine output. If you ignore it, things can get worse.

If you’re dealing with hyperthyroidism, maintaining proper hydration should be your top priority. Drink up – aim for at least 8-10 cups of water a day, but keep in mind that your personal needs can vary based on factors like age, weight, and how much you move. And don’t forget to add hydrating foods like watermelon, cucumbers, and oranges to your diet. Herbal teas, coconut water, and drinks with electrolytes can also help you get your fluid balance back on track.


Let’s talk about sepsis, a condition that can turn a simple infection into a full-blown medical emergency. It doesn’t discriminate – it can affect anyone, but it’s particularly risky for those with weakened immune systems, like the elderly, kids, or people with chronic health issues.

Sepsis can be likened to a raging wildfire within the body. When an infection triggers sepsis, the immune system goes into hyperdrive, releasing excessive inflammatory molecules. This hyperactive response results in an accelerated heart rate, elevated body temperature, and increased breathing rate. These physiological changes can lead to substantial fluid loss, ranging from profuse sweating to frequent urination.

Sepsis also disrupts the body’s fluid balance. The release of inflammatory molecules can render blood vessels more permeable, allowing fluid to escape from the bloodstream into surrounding tissues. This dual effect ultimately reduces blood volume and a significant drop in blood pressure, creating conditions conducive to dehydration.

So, managing dehydration in sepsis is a top priority. In serious cases, you might need IV fluids to get your hydration back on track. These fluids come packed with water, electrolytes, and sometimes medications to steady your blood pressure and help your organs function properly.

Your medical team will closely monitor your fluid intake and output, making adjustments to the IV fluids as needed. They might alter the flow rate or adjust the electrolyte mix to keep your hydration level on point.

When is IV the best option?

Contact our offices and our team of medical professionals led by founders Dr. Abe Malkin and Dr. Neal Kumar, will answer your queries.

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IV treatments or drinking water: which is right for you?

The good news is that although many diseases can increase the likelihood of dehydration, there are solutions and treatments that can help reverse and manage it. For many of these diseases, simply increasing your water intake throughout the day should be sufficient. Wellness professionals recommend having a water bottle nearby throughout the day and taking small regular sips.

However, drinking more water may not be the ideal solution, especially for diseases that affect the digestive system like Chrons and Ulcerative colitis. Additionally, some patients are so severely weakened due to their disease that the very act of drinking water can be too much. In these cases, IV hydration therapy may be the ultimate solution.

Injected straight into the bloodstream, IV hydration therapy makes large amounts of fluid and a mixture of hydration-related vitamins, minerals, and amino acids readily available for the body to use.

Especially for patients whose symptoms lead to massive fluid loss, IV therapy may be more feasible than trying to make up for it by drinking more water. This is due to an IV’s ability to replenish large amounts of fluids in a short amount of time in a way that is not taxing on the patient.

Underlying diseases can make the journey towards optimal hydration harder. Left unaddressed, dehydration can make the effects of the disease even worse. However, with proper strategies in place and treatments such as IV hydration therapy, being properly hydrated may not be as far out of reach as before.

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