Dehydration - Medical Treatment

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Did you or someone you know go to the hospital for dehydration? How was it treated?

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How is dehydration treated?

As is often the case in medicine, prevention is the important first step in the treatment of dehydration. (Please see the home treatment and prevention sections.)

Fluid replacement is the treatment for dehydration. This may be attempted by replacing fluid by mouth, but if this fails, intravenous fluid (IV) may be required. Should oral rehydration be attempted, frequent small amounts of clear fluids should be used.

Clear fluids include most things you can see through.

  • Water (please note that water alone is not necessarily safe to use in infants and can lead to significant electrolyte problems. For this reason, Pedialyte or other balanced electrolyte solutions should be used.
  • Clear broths
  • Popsicles
  • Jell-O
  • Other replacement fluids that may contain electrolytes (Pedialyte, Gatorade, Powerade, etc.)

Decisions about the use of intravenous fluids depend upon the health care professional's assessment of the extent of dehydration, the ability for the patient to drink fluids by mouth, and the ability for the patient to recover from the underlying cause.

The success of the rehydration therapy can be monitored by urine output. When the body is dry, the kidneys try to hold on to as much fluid as possible, urine output is decreased, and the urine itself is concentrated. As treatment occurs and if it is successful, the kidneys sense the increased amount of fluid within the intravascular space and urine output increases.

Medications may be used to treat underlying illnesses and to control fever, vomiting, or diarrhea.

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See what others are saying

Comment from: Jack, 75 or over Male (Patient) Published: August 12

I woke up one morning and got out of bed and suddenly got dizzy, I couldn't stand very well. I went to the emergency room of the closest hospital and was hooked to an IV. Then they took samples of my blood. The doctor thought I was dehydrated because they could find no other reason for the dizziness. I take a furosemide pill, and the doctor told me I should have my medicine cut back. After about an hour or so on the IV I felt much better and they sent me home. It was a scary ordeal.

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Comment from: maria, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: January 27

Yes I went through dehydration once, and my son also did. It was at a 4th of July barbeque. We ate something that didn't agree with us. We all got sick with food poisoning. We were so dehydrated that I was taken to the hospital by and ambulance and my son was taken to the children's hospital. My son was severely dehydrated to the point of dying, and he was admitted for 4 days. It became life threatening to him because of his heart condition. I was later released from the hospital after 8 hours and was given 4 IV bags. It was a really scary feeling, your whole body aches and you feel like passing out with blood pressure so high they think you're having a heart attack.

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