Published online Jan 21, 2019. doi: 10.5527/wjn.v8.i1.23
Peer-review started: August 27, 2018
First decision: October 4, 2018
Revised: November 2, 2018
Accepted: January 3, 2019
Article in press: January 4, 2019
Published online: January 21, 2019
Dehydration and volume depletion describe two distinct body fluid deficit disorders with differing pathophysiology, clinical manifestations and treatment approaches. However, the two are often confused or equated with each other. Here, we address a number of commonly encountered misconceptions about body-fluid deficit disorders, analyse their origins and propose approaches to overcome them.
Core tip: The conceptual error of using the term “dehydration” as a non-specific generic term to represent any type of fluid deficit affecting any fluid compartment, or even worse, to imply extracellular fluid volume depletion remains disturbingly prevalent among medical students and doctors. Careless and casual use of the term “dehydration” for patients who, in fact, have intravascular “volume depletion” contaminates the medical language, creates misleading impressions and unfortunately, in some cases, leads to inappropriate management. We propose a multi-faceted approach that supplements real life clinical scenarios with reflective activities through active participation of students and helps remove these robust misconceptions and instigate conceptual restructuring.