What to do when someone is dehydrated: Dehydration Treatment – Oral Rehydration Therapy and Fluid Replacement
Dehydration Treatment – Oral Rehydration Therapy and Fluid Replacement
Written by WebMD Editorial Contributors
- Is Drinking Water Enough?
- What to Do for a Dehydrated Child
You can become dehydrated for many different reasons. It could be from sweating too much. Vomiting or diarrhea can quickly remove fluids from your body, too. So can medicines that make you pee a lot.
All of these things can cause you to lose more water and electrolytes (essential minerals in your blood and body fluids) than are good for you. If you don’t have enough, your body has trouble doing the things it’s supposed to do.
There’s really only one way to treat dehydration — replace the fluids and electrolytes your body has lost.
For a mild case, it should be enough just to drink plenty of fluids. Water is your first choice, but there are lots of special drinks on the market that will help you replace your body’s lost water and electrolytes.
If you can’t get a pre-mixed rehydration solution, don’t try to make one yourself. Instead, replace lost fluids naturally with sips of water, fruit juice, crushed fruit mixed with water, or salty soups or broths.
Fruit juices may upset your stomach, so it’s best to dilute them with water. Avoid coffee, tea, soda, and alcoholic drinks. They’re diuretics, which means they can dehydrate you more because they all pull water from your body.
If your dehydration is serious, you may need to see a doctor to get treated with intravenous (IV) fluids. Severe dehydration may require you to go to the hospital. You should get medical attention immediately if you:
- Haven’t peed in 8 hours
- Have had a seizure
- Are disoriented or confused
- Have a weak or rapid pulse
- Feel very tired
- Feel dizzy when you stand
- Are too sick (nauseated or vomiting) to take in fluids
If your baby or child becomes dehydrated (usually because of a fever, vomiting or diarrhea), treatment with an oral rehydration solution is your best bet. There are several over-the-counter options (Hydralyte and Pedialyte), which will give your child the right balance of electrolytes and salts.
Try giving small sips or by the teaspoon to begin with. You may even need to use a syringe if they’re having trouble drinking. For an older child, sports drinks diluted with water are the best treatment. Again, start with small sips and give them more as they show they can tolerate it.
For an infant, give plenty of breast milk and formula, but don’t give fruit juices if they are vomiting or have diarrhea. They can make it worse.
Dehydration can be serious in a baby or young child. If you notice these signs, see a doctor right away:
- Extreme sleepiness
- Less responsive than usual
- Few wet diapers
- Cold and blotchy hands and feet
- No tears when crying
- Dark yellow pee
- Very dry mouth
Usually, dehydration is easy to treat at home if you get out of the heat and drink plenty of liquids. But once you’re thirsty, you’re probably already dehydrated, so it’s best to drink plenty of fluids regularly.
10 signs of dehydration you need to know
Studies show that more than 75% of Americans suffer from chronic dehydration. If left untreated, dehydration can lead to significant health problems, particularly for children or older adults.
Monitoring for dehydration symptoms is the key to proper dehydration treatment and can help prevent more serious, life-threatening conditions. If dehydration becomes more severe, it can lead to signs of mental and physical decline that will need immediate medical action for reversal.
1. Not urinating or very dark urine
An easy way to test and see if you’re dehydrated is by checking the color of your urine. Normal urine should be pale yellow, like lemonade. If your urine is a darker color, similar to apple juice, this could be a sign of moderate to severe dehydration.
If you’re not urinating, you’re most likely severely dehydrated. This requires immediate medical attention.
What to do: If you find your urine is dark yellow, start drinking more water immediately. It’s best to take frequent small sips of water that your body can adequately absorb.
If you feel you’re not getting enough fluids regularly, consider taking a large water bottle to drink throughout the day — at work, in the car and on the go.
2. Dry skin that doesn’t bounce back when pinched
Lack of skin elasticity is another sign of dehydration.
Try this test: Pinch the skin on the top of your hand and see what happens. If it moves back slowly, this is an indication that you’re moderately dehydrated. If the skin seems to stick together (i.e., it “tents”), this is a sign of severe dehydration.
What to do: Just like with darker urine, you should increase your water intake and drink fluids if you’re experiencing mild to moderate dehydration. A glass of water is typically a good “go-to”.
If you are severely dehydrated and your skin tents, you may have to visit a healthcare provider who can help treat dehydration.
3. Rapid heartbeat and breathing
It’s natural to have an increased heart rate and rapid breathing while exercising. But if your symptoms don’t go away once you’ve cooled down or haven’t been working out, it could be a sign of severe dehydration. That’s because depleted blood volume can affect the heart’s ability to pump blood.
What to do: If you are experiencing these symptoms, you should visit a healthcare provider to assess for dehydration. You may need IV hydration to reverse severe dehydration that is impacting your breathing. IV hydration provides fluid and has salt and sugar like sodium chloride and potassium to aid in quick rehydration.
4. Dizziness or lightheadedness
Did you know that your brain is approximately 75% water? That’s why drinking water and eating water-filled foods can help your brain work better.
On the flip side, if you don’t get enough fluids, it can negatively affect your brain function. For example, if you are experiencing dizziness or lightheadedness or feel as if you may pass out, this may mean you are severely dehydrated.
What to do: Don’t take symptoms like these lightly. Properly rehydrate by slowing drinking water. However, if you’re experiencing dehydration dizziness or lightheadedness, you should go to the emergency room as soon as possible to be checked out by a healthcare provider.
Consider eating more fruits and vegetables with high water content to prevent dehydration. These include cucumbers, watermelon, tomatoes, strawberries, apples and grapes. This will help replenish your body with minerals and electrolytes.
Unconsciousness from dehydration can result from low blood pressure or dizziness. When accompanied by other dehydration signs, this could indicate a severe fluid loss.
What to do: Call 911 immediately if you’re around someone who passes out or you’re alone and feel like you may pass out. This requires transportation to the emergency room right away for dehydration treatment.
Like with other severe signs of dehydration, you or the person affected will most likely receive rehydration therapy.
Another classic sign of dehydration is fatigue. Studies have shown those who sleep less tend to be more dehydrated and those who were well hydrated slept longer on average.
What to do: If you feel frequently tired shortly into your workouts or regularly fatigued, it’s likely a good time to evaluate your water intake. Call your healthcare provider or local urgent care if you experience extreme fatigue that affects your everyday life.
9. Sunken eyes or dry eyes
While perhaps not as obvious, having dry or sunken eyes is also a classic symptom of dehydration. This is because less fluid and tears are circulating, leading to dryness in the eyes.
In these cases, your eyes can burn. It may even feel like you have sand in your eyes, or they may become more sensitive to light.
What to do: If any of these symptoms occur, drinking water may help.
10. White tongue
Dehydration can also cause a physical symptom called the white tongue. This appears as a white coating on the tongue’s surface caused by debris, bacteria and dead cells that become lodged and inflamed. This can occur for many reasons, but the primary causes are dehydration and dry mouth.
What to do: While a white tongue is generally harmless, it can be an underlying sign that you’re dehydrated. Drink plenty of water and brush your tongue gently with a toothbrush. If it doesn’t go away in a few weeks, it’s a good idea to call a healthcare provider.
Causes of dehydration
There are several possible causes of dehydration, typically either due to not drinking enough water or from losing bodily fluids:
- Inadequate fluid intake: If you’re not drinking enough water or water-containing foods like fruits and vegetables, it’s easier to become dehydrated.
- Diarrhea and vomiting: These symptoms cause fluid loss, which can result in dehydration.
- Excessive sweating: This can result from strenuous or endurance physical activity or exposure to hot weather conditions.
- Increased urination: This can occur if you have diabetes or certain medications that can cause you to urinate more and lose fluid, such as diuretics or blood pressure medications. Also be mindful, that coffee/caffeine and alcohol can increase urination.
- Fever: Having a fever alone dehydrates you. That’s because an increase in body temperature increases your metabolism and breathing rate, leading you to breathe out more moisture. Fever can cause dehydration, especially in kids, due to increased insensible water losses. Dehydration doesn’t cause fever though.
- Hot weather: Overheating due to hot temperatures can also cause dehydration.
Tips to prevent dehydration
These tips can help you prevent dehydration, which is easier than treating it after it has already happened.
- Keep a water bottle by your side and in your line of sight.
- Add natural ingredients to your water, like fresh strawberries, cucumbers and orange or lemon slices. The flavor may encourage you to drink more water.
- Eat more water-filled fruit and vegetables. In fact, cantaloupe, watermelon, leafy greens and tomatoes all contain 90% water.
- Drink electrolytes or coconut water after a workout.
- Avoid alcohol consumption if you’re already feeling dehydrated, as this increases your fluid loss.
FAQs about dehydration
Here are some common questions about dehydration.
Does dehydration cause high blood pressure?
Yes, dehydration can cause your blood pressure to fluctuate, leading to blood pressure that is too high or too low.
What happens if you drink too much water?
Drinking too much water can dilute essential electrolytes, swelling the body’s cells and disrupting brain function. Common signs of too much water can be nausea, vomiting, confusion and disorientation. The kidneys are designed to urinate out the excess, so unless someone is purposefully drinking excessively, this isn’t a practical concern
What is the fastest way to cure dehydration?
The fastest way to cure dehydration is to drink fluids, particularly those that contain electrolytes, such as sports drinks or oral rehydration solutions. People unable to drink properly due to medical conditions may require IV hydration for faster results.
What does a dehydration headache feel like?
Pain from a dehydration headache can vary. With mild dehydration, it can feel like a dull throbbing but can be sharp or pounding as dehydration worsens.
Visit an urgent care for dehydration symptoms
When you’re severely dehydrated, your gut reaction might be to chug fluids or water-filled foods into the body as quickly as possible. However, you don’t want to overdo it. It’s possible to drink too much water, resulting in a condition called hyponatremia. This is when sodium and electrolytes in the blood are so low that they can be life-threatening. As mentioned above, this is challenging to do and usually requires kidney or other medical problems.
Dehydration can be dangerous if left untreated, particularly for children or older adults. Understanding your fluid needs based on age, medical status and lifestyle can help you keep your hydration status balanced.
If you need help assessing the warning signs of dehydration and treating it, visit the experts at our urgent care centers through our healthcare provider partners. You can walk in without an appointment or save your spot online. We’ll have you back to feeling better in no time.
Written by Sarah Thebarge, Physician Assistant
11 signs that your body is dehydrated (and how to fix it)
The summer of 2021 turned out to be abnormally hot — in the central part of Russia, the temperature exceeded the norm by 5-7 degrees. In such heat, the body actively removes fluid, and it needs to be replenished. If you ignore this fact, you can face dehydration – a serious disease in both adults and children.
Signs of dehydration
Respiratory problems. Asthma and allergies are among the main symptoms of dehydration. This is because with the loss of a large amount of fluid, the protection of the mucous membranes decreases. Because of this, the child may choke, actively sneeze and cough.
High blood pressure. An insidious symptom that does not manifest itself actively at the beginning. It can result in headaches, darkening of the eyes, nosebleeds. This is due to the fact that the amount of water in the blood decreases, and it begins to move more slowly.
Weight gain. Cells especially need energy, which they can take from water filled with hydrogen. If the body lacks moisture, it has to replenish energy from another source – food, and very high-calorie food, because it contains the most energy.
High cholesterol. Cholesterol is actively released during dehydration and literally “freezes” the cells so that they stop losing water. Cholesterol levels can only be determined using a blood test, so do not forget about a systematic health check-up.
Skin diseases. The lack of the right amount of water affects the retention of toxins inside the body, which can cause problems such as acne, dermatitis, psoriasis.
Digestive disorders. Ulcers, gastritis and acid reflux are the consequences of poor food processing. The body stops producing enough digestive juices because it contains little water and the digestive system cannot function fully ( read also : 5 Good Digestion Exercises You Can Do Every Day).
Problems with stool. Poor functioning of the digestive tract and, as a result, constipation and other disorders are also associated with a small amount of water in the body. Refusal to drink quality water can lead to the immobilization of waste products inside the large intestine.
Pain in the joints. The cartilaginous pad that sits between the joints and prevents them from rubbing against each other becomes thinner due to lack of water. Then the friction increases, which leads to pain.
Bladder or kidney problems. As with the skin, the body is unable to remove toxins from the organs, which contributes to infections, inflammation and pain. Increasing the level of fluid in the body to the required rate will eliminate this problem.
Premature aging. This is what the older generation is facing. Skin discoloration and early wrinkles occur due to lack of moisture in the body. But this is also true for those who are expecting a baby. Therefore, it is important to drink plenty of healthy water from natural sources or liquids filled with hydrogen.
Increased fatigue. Children’s activity in the summer, combined with the heat, can lead to dehydration. This process occurs at the chemical level – the reactions in the cells slow down, the child simply cannot be active. Therefore, you should not blame the child for laziness in such a situation.
How to deal with dehydration?
It is best to avoid folk prescriptions from the Internet and consult a doctor immediately . But the first aid immediately after discovering the problem is drinking plenty of water. To enhance the benefits, it is better to drink hydrogen water: it improves metabolism and helps beneficial substances to penetrate quickly and in full ( see also : Filtered, bottled or boiled: what is the healthiest water).
Do not turn a blind eye to the above signs, the consequences can be serious – from loss of consciousness to hospitalization. Self-medication can be harmful to the child, since only a doctor can determine whether it is necessary to restore salt metabolism.
Dehydration is often experienced not only because of the use of small amounts of water, but also because of its poor quality. The indicators of bottled water do not correspond to the parameters of the body, do not make it useful and do not protect against dehydration. Thanks to hydrogen water, the body is filled with antioxidants that protect the organs from harmful bacteria, and the cell membrane works efficiently – through it, useful substances completely get inside. A full-fledged work of all organs will be the key to a stable emotional state of the child and his good mood.
Dehydration in children
Changes in mood and emotional “swings” are signs of dehydration (dehydration) in children, since the body does not receive enough fluid, physiological processes are of poor quality, the child feels discomfort. Children lose fluid much faster than adults, because their system of water-salt metabolism is not so well established. Therefore, experts advise monitoring how often your child drinks and whether he uses quality water.
Not all liquids will be good for children. The body tends to perceive water with the same parameters as its own: redox potential (ORP), surface tension and the amount of active hydrogen. These factors in bottled water will not be equivalent to our body fluids, so it is important to drink water from natural sources or hydrogen water. Store-bought juices and lemonades are best excluded from the children’s diet.
The child constantly asks for water – is it worth sounding the alarm?
The desire to drink is quite natural, especially in the heat. To identify dehydration, you need to identify more significant signs that many do not even notice. My patients admitted that they did not even suspect that they were suffering from dehydration, and did not correlate the symptoms with this disease.
Thirst and dehydration are different things: the first is the need of the body, dehydration is a violation of the normal functioning of our organs, the most important of which consist of more than 75% water. Reducing the volume of water even by 2% will affect the well-being and normal life processes of the child.
Does pregnancy increase the risk of dehydration?
When a woman is pregnant, her body expends energy not only to maintain its condition, but also to develop and protect the fetus. Frequent urination and toxicosis in the early stages accelerate the process of removing fluid from the body.
The consequences can range from minor ailments to more serious things: disruption of the position of the fetus and the formation of the placenta, thickening of the blood, and even premature birth if dehydration caught up with you at a later date. Therefore, women who are expecting a baby should pay special attention to the right amount of healthy water in the body, which can be obtained thanks to ionizers.
Therapist-nutritionist, author of the body cleansing and detoxification program, member of the PreventAge association of doctors of preventive and anti-aging medicine, co-founder of the Vione water ionizer brand.
Photo: Getty Images
Dehydration in a child: symptoms and prevention
Resources for Parents
Dehydration in a child: symptoms and prevention
Dehydration is a pathological condition in which the body loses fluid and, along with it, salts and minerals. Infants and young children are especially at risk of dehydration because they lose fluid faster than adults.
Causes of dehydration
1. Difficulty in the flow of fluid into the body. This situation is rare. This may be the refusal of the child to drink liquid, for example, due to pain when swallowing. Or these are severe pathological conditions in which the child cannot swallow on his own.
2. Increased excretion of water and minerals by the body, when the loss of fluid exceeds its intake. This situation is observed in acute infections, food poisoning, parasitic damage, overheating, burns.
Signs of dehydration in a child: dry mucous membranes, shallow breathing, rapid pulse, low blood pressure, lethargy and irritability; decreased frequency of urination, deformation of the fontanel, lack of tears when crying.
Dehydration is a very dangerous condition, especially for children. Its most common cause is a viral infection with the following manifestations: high fever, loss of appetite, loose stools, vomiting.
In many cases, the infection is caused by rotaviruses.
Dehydration can also be the result of the formation of wounds in the child’s mouth, because they are also the result of the entry of the virus into the body. Painful mouth ulcers make it difficult for a child to eat and drink normally. Dehydration can also occur as a result of intense sweating, so on hot days you should make sure that the child consumes more fluids than usual. Always carry a bottle of water with you.
2. Symptoms of dehydration in children
The first symptoms of dehydration in infants and children are as follows: chills, weakness, crying without tears, dry mouth. In severe cases, symptoms include dry skin, a change in the smell and color of urine, and a decrease in the amount of urination. Having recognized these symptoms, it is worth thinking about how to restore the water balance of the body as soon as possible.
How to quench a child’s thirst?
Pediatricians always recommend water to quench your thirst. Drinking water will not cause a child to lose their appetite and will not have problems with tooth decay and obesity in the future, unlike the consequences of drinking sugary drinks.
A baby only needs a few teaspoons of water a day. When he shows that he is no longer thirsty, stop the process and give the next dose in a few hours.
The water given to the child should be boiled and cooled. Even tap water filtered with special filters is not suitable for direct consumption by a child, as it contains many chemicals and metals that can be harmful to health.
Teas are also recommended for children, but only in small amounts, as babies often like the sweetened drink. You can also give your child juices, preferably diluted 1:1 with water. The most useful are low-sugar juices containing pulp, without dyes and preservatives. They are meant to be safe for children to consume.
How to avoid dehydration?
If you have already experienced the annoying problem of dehydration in your child, do not rush to panic! Read the detailed description of actions on how to avoid this phenomenon.
Give your child a small amount of water several times a day
Breastfeed your baby more often, especially in hot weather
Use drinking water, chamomile tea and light fruit infusions
Check the temperature of drinks before serving it to the child – it should be at room temperature
Remember that hot days can be dangerous not only for your baby, but also for you. At this time, be sure to have a bottle of water with you separately for yourself and your baby. When a child’s dehydration is so severe that he looks visibly weak and lethargic, see a doctor as soon as possible.
In extreme cases of dehydration (accompanied by fever and diarrhoea), we are talking about inpatient treatment and the installation of a drip under the supervision of doctors
What Diet Should You Follow During Dehydration?
The most important rule during dehydration is the constant filling of the body with fluid. Not only oral rehydration fluids, but also some dietary changes play a key role in solving this problem.