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Hypovolemia

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Updated: September 15, 2006

Definition:

Hypovolemia basically means low blood volume. "Hypo" means low, "vol" is for volume, and "emia" refers to blood. Symptoms of hypovolemia may include cold hands and feet, light headedness, infrequent urination, increased heart rate, and weakness.

What's the big deal about hypovolemia?

Two words: hypovolemic shock. Sounds bad, is bad. Low blood volume can result in multiple organ failure, kidney damage, brain damage, and death.

What causes hypovolemia?

Let's start with an obvious example: someone's arm gets ripped off and blood is pouring from the shoulder stump. That person is losing blood and will soon become hypovolemic because his body won't be able to produce enough blood to make up for what he's losing. Less obvious (and less gruesome) causes of hypovolemia are internal bleeding and dehydration. Traumatic accidents, chronic illnesses, ruptured ectopic pregnancies, and surgery can all cause internal bleeding. Low fluid intake, extensive vomiting, and severe diarrhea are common causes of dehydration.

Sources:
  1. CNN Health Library. Cholera.
  2. eMedicine. Hypovolemic Shock.
  3. MedicineNet. Definition of Hypovolemia.
  4. MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. Hypovolemic Shock.
  5. The Merck Manual of Medical Information. Orthostatic Hypotension.
Alternate Spellings: hypovolaemia

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