Public knowledge of dehydration and fluid intake practices: variation by participants' characteristics

BMC Public Health. 2018 Dec 5;18(1):1346. doi: 10.1186/s12889-018-6252-5.


Background: Dehydration results from a decrease in total body water content either due to less intake or more fluid loss. Common symptoms of dehydration are dry mouth/tongue, thirst, headache, and lethargy. The aim of this study was to assess knowledge of dehydration definition, symptoms, causes, prevention, water intake recommendations and water intake practices among people living in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Methods: A cross-sectional study using self-reported questionnaire was employed. Participants were invited during their visit to shopping malls. The shopping malls were selected based on geographical location covering east, west, north and southern part of the city. Self-filled questionnaires were distributed to 393 participants, using systematic sampling technique. Variables recorded included demographics, past medical history, knowledge of dehydration definition, symptoms, causes, prevention and daily water intake practices. Descriptive statistics were summarised as mean, standard deviation and proportions. Negative binomial model was used to identify the predictors of water intake. Analyses were performed using SAS version 9.4 (SAS Institute, Cary, NC, USA).

Results: Out of 393 participants, 273(70%) were Saudi, 209(53%) were female, average age was 32.32 ± 8.78 years. Majority 366(93%) had good knowledge of dehydration definition, 332(84%) for dehydration prevention, and 293(74%) of water intake recommendation. Top three recognized dehydration symptoms were: dry lips (87%), thirst (84%), dry tongue (76%) and recognized dehydration causes were: diarrhoea (81%), sweating (68%) and vomiting (62%). The less recognized symptoms were fatigue 176(44.78%), lack of focus 171(43.5%), headache/dizziness 160(40.71%), light headedness 117(29.7%), muscle weakness 98(24.94%), rapid breathing 90(22.9%), and muscle cramps 64(16.28%).The participants had reported an average of 5.39 ± 3.32 water glasses intake per day. The total volume of water intake was significantly different between males n = 184 (3.935 ± 2.10 l) and females n = 209 (3.461 ± 2.59 l) (p = 0.046). The participants' weight status, intake of juice or tea were the significant predictors of more water intake.

Conclusion: The participants displayed good knowledge of dehydration definition, prevention, and water intake recommendation. The participants also displayed good knowledge of the common symptoms, however knowledge was lacking for uncommon symptoms. Moreover, participants had reported adequate water intake, meeting the daily water intake recommendation of ≥3.7 l for men and ≥ 2.7 l for women.

Keywords: Dehydration; Dehydration causes; Dehydration symptoms; Fluid intake; Water intake.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Dehydration* / prevention & control
  • Drinking*
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Sex Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult