Dehydration in older people could be detected by routine blood tests

Older people are particularly at risk of water-loss dehydration, which is caused by not drinking enough fluid. It can lead to poor health outcomes such as disability and even death.

The best test for diagnosing dehydration, known as a serum osmolality test, is expensive and not currently viable for wide-scale NHS screening. But new research just published from the University of East Anglia (UEA) reveals how routine blood tests for sodium, potassium, urea and glucose could be used to screen for dehydration.

The research team studied 595 people over age 65, including those who were healthy and lived independently, frail people living in residential care, and those in hospital. The group also spanned several European countries and took into account those with poor renal function and diabetes.

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