In physiology and medicine, dehydration (hypohydration) is defined as the excessive loss of body fluid. It is literally the removal of water (Ancient Greek: ὕδωρ hýdōr) from an object; however, in physiological terms, it entails a deficiency of fluid within an organism. Dehydration of skin and mucous membranes can be called medical dryness.
There are three types of dehydration: hypotonic or hyponatremic (primarily a loss of electrolytes, sodium in particular), hypertonic or hypernatremic (primarily a loss of water), and isotonic or isonatremic (equal loss of water and electrolytes). In humans, the most commonly seen type of dehydration by far is isotonic (isonatraemic) dehydration which effectively equates with hypovolemia, but the distinction of isotonic from hypotonic or hypertonic dehydration may be important when treating people who become dehydrated. Physiologically, dehydration, despite the name, does not simply mean loss of water, as water and solutes (mainly sodium) are usually lost in roughly equal quantities to how they exist in blood plasma. In hypotonic dehydration, intravascular water shifts to the extravascular space, exaggerating intravascular volume depletion for a given amount of total body water loss. Neurological complications can occur in hypotonic and hypertonic states. The former can lead to seizures, while the latter can lead to osmotic cerebral edema upon rapid rehydration.