What is hypovolaemia?

Hypovolaemia is a condition in which there is a decrease in the volume of circulating blood in the body, leading to a decrease in blood pressure. It is caused by a decrease in the amount of blood and/or other bodily fluids (such as serum albumin, plasma or plasma proteins). This decrease in circulating blood volume could be due to multiple circumstances like dehydration, internal or external bleeding, vomiting, and diarrhoea.

Signs and Symptoms of Hypovolaemia

The common signs and symptoms of hypovolaemia can vary depending on the severity of the condition. Some of the most common signs and symptoms are:

  • Rapid heart rate
  • Low blood pressure or hypotension
  • Rapid and shallow breathing
  • Fatigue or weakness
  • Confusion
  • Lightheadedness or dizziness
  • Pale skin
  • Cold extremities
  • Reduced urine output

Diagnosis of Hypovolaemia

A doctor will begin by taking a medical history and a physical examination. To diagnose hypovolaemia, blood tests such as a complete blood count (CBC) or electrolytes may be conducted. Imaging tests such as X-rays, ultrasound, and CT scans may be done to look for potential causes of hypovolaemia. Intravenous fluid replacement may also be used to assess and monitor the patient’s response to fluid replacement.

Treatment of Hypovolaemia

The treatment for hypovolaemia is specific to the underlying cause. The aim is to restore the volume of the circulating blood. This may involve rehydration with intravenous fluids, the use of medications to reduce or stop bleeding, and the administration of blood or plasma transfusions. Other treatments can include the use of diuretics or other medications to reduce swelling, certain hormones, and antibiotics to treat any associated infection.

Complications of Hypovolaemia

If left untreated, hypovolaemia can be life-threatening and can cause serious complications such as shock, organ damage, vascular collapse, and death.