A number of clinical and environmental factors may place a patient at risk for developing dehydration or a fluid-electrolyte imbalance.


Risk factors associated with decreased awareness or communication:

(1) dementia or cognitive impairment

(2) unconsciousness

(3) neonate or preverbal infant


Risk factors associated with insufficient intake:

(1) previous episodes of dehydration

(2) difficult or painful swallowing

(3) dependence on others for eating and drinking (bedbound. etc.)

(4) lack of social or family support

(5) depression

(6) dizziness


Risk factors associated with increased fluid loss:

(1) fever

(2) diarrhea

(3) vomiting

(4) receiving medications that may cause fluid loss

(5) draining wounds or pressure ulcers

(6) excessive sweating

(7) rapid breathing

(8) gastrointestinal bleeding

(9) excessive urination (including diabetes insipidus and diabetes mellitus)

(10) excessive environmental heat

(11) infection

(12) chronic comorbidities


Risk factors associated with care delivery:

(1) orders for nothing-by-mouth or fluid restriction

(2) tube feeding

(3) use of specialty beds

(4) restraints

(5) inadequate staffing

(6) language barriers

(7) isolation


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