Symptoms of Dehydration

If all food and fluids (nutrition and hydration) are removed from a person — whether that person is a healthy Olympic athlete who takes food and fluids by mouth or a frail, disabled person who receives them by a feeding tube — death is inevitable. That death will occur because of dehydration.

As a person dies from lack of food and fluids, his or her

Mouth would dry out and become caked or coated with thick material.

Lips would become parched and cracked.

Tongue would swell, and might crack.

Eyes would recede back into their orbits.

Cheeks would become hollow.

Lining of the nose might crack and cause the nose to bleed.

Skin would hang loose on the body and become dry and scaly.

Urine would become highly concentrated, leading to burning of the bladder.

Lining of the stomach would dry out and he or she would experience dry heaves and vomiting.

Body temperature would become very high.

Brain cells would dry out, causing convulsions.

Respiratory tract would dry out, and the thick secretions that would result could plug the lungs and cause death.

At some point within five days to three weeks, the person’s major organs, including the lungs, heart, and brain, would give out and death would occur.

[Source: Brophy v. New England Sinai Hosp., 398 Mass. 417, 444 n.2, 497 N.E.2d 626, 641 n.2 (1986) (Nolan, J., dissenting).

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