Dehydration

Dehydration occurs when your body loses too much water. When you stop drinking water or lose large amounts of fluids through diarrhea, vomiting, or sweating, the body cells reabsorb fluid from the blood and other body tissues. When too much water is lost, the blood vessels may collapse. Without medical attention, death may result.

 

Dehydration is very dangerous for infants, small children, and older adults. Watch closely for its early signs anytime there is an illness that causes high fever, vomiting or diarrhea. The early symptoms are:

  • Dry mouth and sticky saliva
  • Reduced urine output with dark yellow urine

Home Treatment

Treatment of mild dehydration involves stopping the fluid loss and gradually replacing lost fluids.

  • To stop vomiting or diarrhea, stop all food for several hours or until you are feeling better. Take frequent, small sips of water of a rehydration drink.
  • When the vomiting or diarrhea is controlled, take water or diluted broth or sports drinks a sip at a time until the stomach can handle larger amounts.

When to Call a Health Professional

  • If someone cannot hold down even small sips of liquid after 12 hours of no food or drink.
  • If the following signs of severe dehydration develop:
    • Sunken eyes
    • Little or no urine for eight hours
    • Skin that is doughy or doesn’t bounce back when pinched
    • Low blood pressure and rapid heart rate
    • Lethargy
     
  • If vomiting lasts longer than 24 hours in an adult.
  • If severe diarrhea (large loose stools every one to two hours) last longer than two days in an adult.