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Etiology, clinical manifestations, and diagnosis of volume depletion in adults

Richard H Sterns, MD
Section Editor
Michael Emmett, MD
Deputy Editor
John P Forman, MD, MSc


In a variety of clinical disorders, fluid losses reduce extracellular fluid volume, potentially compromising tissue perfusion. Early diagnosis and prompt treatment to restore euvolemia can be lifesaving.

True volume depletion may occur when sodium-containing fluids are lost in the urine, from the gastrointestinal tract or skin, or by acute sequestration into an internal "third-space" that results in a diminished intravascular volume.

When these fluid losses occur, two factors serve to protect against the development of hypovolemia:

Dietary sodium and water intake are generally far above basal needs. As a result, relatively large losses must occur unless intake is concomitantly reduced (as with anorexia or vomiting).

The kidney minimizes urinary losses by enhancing sodium and water reabsorption.

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Literature review current through: Nov 2017. | This topic last updated: Feb 29, 2016.
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