When we don't drink we get dehydrated and after some time we die. What is the cause of death on the lowest level?

I would assume the dielectric properties around/in the heart tissue get imbalanced and the heart stops beating.

Then lack of oxygen in the brain. Then...?


1 Answer 1


The simple answer is dehydration kills you by causing the blood flow to become completely ineffective.

Dehydration limits the amount of water in the bloodstream causing an increase in blood viscosity, and thereby an increase in blood pressure. As this process gets more extreme the body has a difficult time getting the blood to the places it needs to be, and will limit blood flow to non-essential organs (kind of similar to what happens when it's cold outside and your fingers go numb). At the same time waste is beginning to build up as the kidneys cannot filter the blood effectively, and the internal temperature rises because of the lack of sweating. This process gets more extreme until one of your essential organs cannot take it anymore and shuts down, likely the liver first.

Most everything I got for this answer was from a PopSci Article. Although there is also a nice 1935 study with many measurements from real people.

  • $\begingroup$ Thank you for your answer. Could you please explain the reason one dies after the liver stops working? How long would one die after liver failure? $\endgroup$
    – PepitoSh
    Jun 4, 2018 at 4:54
  • $\begingroup$ There are over 500 functions of the liver, many of them vital, including producing hormones, detoxifying blood and generating digestive fluids. A failure of one function won't kill you, but an odd combination of several can combine to cause additional effects, such as electrolyte dis balance or blood clotting that in total overwhelm the body. $\endgroup$
    – user42909
    Jun 5, 2018 at 11:25

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