Hypovolemia: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

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HypovolemiaThere are a number of health issues that can be very dangerous. The unfortunate thing is that many of these potentially lethal health issues are not well known. Take hypovolemia, for instance.  Up until now, you may never have heard about it, or if you had, only rarely.

But, hypovolemia could pose some really unfortunate consequences for your health. With that in mind, we thought we would bring this obscure condition to light.

We will cover the official hypovolemia definition, hypovolemia symptoms, hypovolemia causes, and hypovolemia treatment. By the end of this article, you should have a better idea of what it is, how to recognize it, and how it is treated.

With that in mind, we thought we would bring this obscure condition to light. We will cover the official hypovolemia definition, hypovolemia symptoms, hypovolemia causes, and hypovolemia treatment. By the end of this article, you should have a better idea of what it is, how to recognize it, and how it is treated.

What Causes Hypovolemia?

What is hypovolemia? Essentially, it is a decrease in the volume of blood in your body. As for what causes hypovolemia, the answer is a few different things.

1. Loss of Fluids

The loss of fluids can cause a decrease in blood volume. The fluid loss can be caused by a number of things, such as severe burns, excessive or prolonged diarrhea, excessive sweating, and protracted and excessive vomiting. Horrible stomach flu might be able to create these conditions.

Horrible stomach flu might be able to create these conditions.

2. Sudden Loss of Blood

A sudden, rapid loss of large amounts of blood can trigger hypovolemia. This can result from bleeding from the digestive tract, internal bleeding from abdominal organs or ruptured ectopic pregnancy, significant vaginal bleeding, bleeding from serious wounds, and bleeding from blunt traumatic injuries.

Additionally, excessive alcohol consumption and blood donation can produce low blood volumes, but both of these causes are very rare.

As you can see, the causes of hypovolemia are pretty serious, and there is a good chance that when one of them happens, you will know about it.

But, when those causes prompt the blood condition, it’s important to be able to recognize the various symptoms—so that you can get in front of it before it causes major damage.

The Signs and Symptoms of Hypovolemia

Between the loss of blood volume and the loss of bodily fluids, there are a lot of accompanying symptoms that may occur. The symptoms of hypovolemia can include:

1. Pale skin

Due to the lowered levels of blood in the system, a person with hypovolemia may often have noticeably pale skin.

2. Increased heart rate

Hypovolemia causes an increased heart rate, even while resting, due to the circulation issues brought on by low blood volume. This isn’t a huge problem alone, but if you have other heart conditions, it becomes a major issue.

3. Anxiety

The ability to feel your heart beat (due to the increased rate and lack of blood volume) can cause anxiety in some.

4. Increased respiratory rate

Less blood in the body means the respiratory system needs to work harder to get more oxygen into the respiratory system.

5. Increased sweating

Your body thinks it is under attack when something like hypovolemia happens. In response, the body unleashes many defenses and warning systems. As a natural “panic button,” the body may produce increased and excessive amounts of sweat.

6. Decreased blood pressure

With blood volume being low, there is less pressure in the circulatory system to move the remaining blood where it needs to go or to deliver the oxygen that the body needs.

7. Mind issues

The lack of blood and oxygen to the brain can affect the patient’s mental state. Symptoms like confusion, disorientation, and drowsiness. Depending on how bad the symptoms are, this can even lead to a loss of consciousness.

8. Urinary output

Fewer fluids of all sorts mean less urine or possibly no urinary output at all.

So, the symptoms are very uncomfortable and potentially dangerous. And since a number of them are quite similar to other medical issues, it’s very important to see a doctor for a proper diagnosis.

Diagnosis of Hypovolemia

Hypovolemia is a bit of a medical emergency. If you are exhibiting symptoms, it’s best to get yourself checked out, because symptoms don’t usually appear until your blood volume has decreased by 10% to 20%.

The doctor will take a look at you to see if your symptoms match up with those of hypovolemia. If the symptoms appear to be hypovolemia-induced, other tests will usually be administered to confirm the diagnosis. Those tests can include:

  • Blood chemistry (these will also include blood tests to determine how well your kidney is functioning)
  • Complete blood count (CBC)
  • Ultrasound, X-ray, and CT scan
  • Urinary catheterization
  • Right heart catheterization (RHC)
  • Endoscopy
  • Echocardiogram

They may also test your urine production capabilities, as this can reveal quite a bit about your situation, including how far along you may be in hypovolemia. Once all the tests come back, if you have a positive diagnosis of hypovolemia, you can move on to treatment.

Treating Hypovolemia

Treatment of hypovolemia should begin relatively quickly after a positive diagnosis, as the symptoms and the ailment itself can be very punishing to the body.

If you are lucky and caught it at a fairly early stage, low blood volume can be treated rather swiftly. Hydration with drinks designed to replace sugars and electrolytes is a must, and you will probably need donor blood in order to get back up to proper levels.

Aftercare includes keeping an eye on your situation and eating meals that are fairly high in protein for a few days.

If the hypovolemia has reached a more advanced state, you will require a longer hospital stay. You will more than likely need intravenous fluids, and medications like dobutamine, epinephrine, dopamine, and norepinephrine may be necessary in order to get your heart rate back to normal.

Doctors will also monitor your heart to see if there were any lasting effects.

The effects of hypovolemia are nothing to laugh at. Due to the poor circulation in the limbs caused by hypovolemia, gangrene is very much a possibility.

If the corresponding death and decay of tissue is extensive, it could mean the amputation of a limb. Organ damage, especially to the kidneys and heart, is also a very real possibility. And keep in mind: This may occur on top of recovering from an injury that caused the hypovolemia in the first place.

Hypovolemia: Get Medical Attention!

Hypovolemia can do a lot of damage to your body if it goes unchecked for too long, and it can even take your life. If you think you may be experiencing symptoms associated with hypovolemia, it’s best to get it checked out right away by a medical professional. The sooner you get it checked out, the better off you will be. Luckily, treatment can be fairly easy and just take some time.

“Hypovolemia,” Healthgrades; https://www.healthgrades.com/conditions/hypovolemia–symptoms, last accessed May 5, 2017.
Nall, R., Gotter, A., “Hypovolemic Shock,” Healthline, April 28, 2016; http://www.healthline.com/health/hypovolemic-shock#overview1, last accessed May 5, 2017.
“Hypovolemia,” How’s Health; http://howshealth.com/hypovolemia/#Hypovolemia_Causes, last accessed May 5, 2017.

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