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Can dehydration lead to shock?

Dehydration is a state of negative fluid balance that may be caused by a number of conditions or disease entities. The negative fluid balance that causes dehydration can result from conditions that lead to decreased intake, increased output, or fluid shift. This decrease in total body water or dehydration initially causes a depletion of intravascular volume and then a reduction in both the intracellular and extracellular fluid volumes. As dehydration progresses, hypovolemic shock can develop. Hypovolemic shock occurs when low blood volume causes a drop in blood pressure and a drop in the amount of oxygen circulating to the body’s organs. Hypovolemic shock is a serious and sometimes life-threatening complication of dehydration.

Dehydration can lead to shock if it is so severe that it affects the volume of blood and bodily fluids getting to the organs. With dehydration, the blood does not flow as readily through the blood vessels and may therefore lead to shock. Dehydration can be more severe in children and those who are losing fluids from vomiting and diarrhea, which puts them at higher risk of shock.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.