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.

Return to Dehydration

See what others are saying

Comment from: Wolfe, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: July 23

7/14/13 my husband had to call an ambulance. I was sitting in the recliner and all of a sudden thought I was going to pass out, then became severely nauseated. My heart was racing profusely. I have atrial tachycardia. When the ambulance arrived my b/p was 170/100, heart rate 122, they thought I was having a heart attack. When they tried to get me out of the chair my legs collapsed, I could not hold myself up. They re-routed me to a closer hospital as I was in extreme tachycardia and had another paramedic intercept the ambulance in case I coded. At the hospital they started an IV and ran in wide open. Turns out I was severely dehydrated, when I was able to give a urine sample it was almost brown. Even thought I push fluids we were having extreme heat and humidity. apparently I had not drank enough that day. I know drink pedialyte twice a day the powdered kind you can put in a water bottle. They told me to stay away from gatoraide since it has a lot of sugar. Trust me, this scared the hec out of me and my husband. So please push your fluids.

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Comment from: Rocko, 65-74 Male (Patient) Published: February 20

I was treated exactly in the emergency room as described in your article. I was given IV drip for about two hours, connected to heart monitor and associated equipment. Once I stabilized I was given antibiotic through IV to stop the vomiting and diarrhea which it did. I was given a supply of same antibiotic to continue for 5 days and instructed to drink plenty of liquids. I also decided to add Jell-O to my diet as per reading from your article.

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