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Doctors' Answers to "Frequently Asked Questions" - Dehydration


These comments are made for the purpose of discussion and should NOT be used as recommendations for or against therapies or other treatments. An individual patient is always advised to consult their own physician.

Dehydration/Blood Loss
Question: What is the relationship between mild to moderate dehydration and the body's ability to compensate for blood loss (post surgery)?

Can mild or moderate dehydration suppress the body's natural ability to heal surgical wounds, and can it affect the clotting factors of blood?

What is the accuracy of blood tests that show a blood hematocrit level of 9? And what exactly does this low level mean, other than the patient is in dire need of blood? (The patient's hematocrit level was 30+, 2 hours post transfusion of 4 units whole blood and 4 units FFP).

Answer: When the body becomes dehydrated, the blood count rises slightly. The whole system also contracts as the blood vessels are constricted, changing the effective blood volume. However, dehydration does not change the bodies ability to clot or heal surgical wounds. Blood tests for blood counts are incredibly accurate(although mistakes are always possible). However, it sounds like this is probably an accurate count. One usually expects a rise in hematocrit of about 4 or 5 points per unit of blood. Consequently, a transfusion of 4 units would raise the hematocrit to 25 to 30 depending on the patientís size.
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