Dehydration

  • Medical Author:
    Benjamin Wedro, MD, FACEP, FAAEM

    Dr. Ben Wedro practices emergency medicine at Gundersen Clinic, a regional trauma center in La Crosse, Wisconsin. His background includes undergraduate and medical studies at the University of Alberta, a Family Practice internship at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario and residency training in Emergency Medicine at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.

  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

View Dehydration Slideshow

Quick GuideDehydration Pictures Slideshow: Causes, Symptoms and Tips to Stay Hydrated

Dehydration Pictures Slideshow: Causes, Symptoms and Tips to Stay Hydrated

Can I treat dehydration at home?

Dehydration occurs over time. If it can be recognized in its earliest stages, and if its cause can be addressed, home treatment may be beneficial and adequate.

Steps a person can take at home to prevent severe dehydration include:

  • Individuals with vomiting and diarrhea can try to alter their diet and use medications to control symptoms to minimize water loss. Clear fluids are recommended as the diet of choice for the first 24 hours, with gradual progression to a regular diet as tolerated.
  • Loperamide (Imodium) may be considered to control diarrhea. If the affected individual has a fever, or if there is blood in the diarrhea, medical advice should be obtained before administering medications to control diarrhea.
  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol and others) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, and others) may be used to control fever. Ibuprofen may irritate the stomach and cause nausea and vomiting, so it should be used with caution in patients who already have these symptoms.
  • Fluid replacements may be attempted by small, frequent amounts of clear fluids (see clear fluids information in previous section). The amount of fluid required to maintain hydration depends upon the individual's weight. The average adult needs between 2 and 3 liters of fluid per day.

If the person becomes confused or lethargic; if there is persistent, uncontrolled fever, vomiting, or diarrhea; or if there are any other specific concerns, then medical care should be accessed.

Emergency medical system (EMS) or 911 should be activated for any individual with altered mental status - confusion, lethargy, or coma.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/30/2015

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