Fluid shifts occur when the body's fluids move between the fluid compartments. Physiologically, this occurs by a combination of hydrostatic pressure gradients and osmotic pressure gradients. Water will move from one chamber into the next passively across a semi permeable membrane until the hydrostatic and osmotic pressure gradients balance each other. Many medical conditions can cause fluid shifts. When fluid moves out of the intravascular space (the blood vessels), blood pressure can drop to dangerously low levels, endangering critical organs such as the brain, heart and kidneys. When fluid shifts out of the cells (the intracellular space), cellular processes slow down or cease from intracellular dehydration. Fluid shifts into the brain cells can cause increased cranial pressure. Fluid shifts may be compensated by fluid replacement or diuretics.
Read more about this topic: Fluid Compartments
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