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Find Out How to Treat Dehydration Symptoms at Home and When to Go to the ER

You can become dehydrated after vigorously exercising on a hot day or when dealing with a bout of vomiting and diarrhea. It’s even possible for it to happen under normal circumstances when you don’t take in enough fluids. In most instances, you can consume an oral rehydration solution at home to get the fluids and electrolytes you need to overcome the symptoms.

However, in some instances, it’s an emergency that requires urgent care. The medical team will rehydrate you so you can avoid serious complications, including kidney damage. Because emergency rooms can rehydrate with IVs, your symptoms should go away quickly when under a doctor’s care.

When Is It an Emergency?

Typical symptoms include dehydration headache, lightheadedness, muscle cramps, rapid breathing, and reduced urine production. You can use an oral rehydration solution such as Pedialyte or a sports drink to manage these symptoms. Attempt to take in two quarts of fluid every four hours. If you do this, your symptoms should diminish within three or four hours. You need to continue rehydrating since it can take 36 hours to replenish the fluids and electrolytes you are missing.

However, do not try to rehydrate at home if you have severe symptoms. Head directly to the emergency room or call 911 if you:

  • Feel weak
  • Are confused
  • Feel faint or have passed out
  • Experience bloody diarrhea or vomit
  • Have abdominal pain
  • Experience swelling in the abdomen
  • Cannot keep down fluids, preventing you from rehydrating

Am I at Risk for Dehydration?

When evaluating the signs, you might notice that you have some, if not all, of them. This could be because you are at high risk for dehydration.

Older adults are at high risk because they often fail to take in enough fluids. Thirst decreases as people grow older, so it’s crucial to stay on top of fluid intake.

Young children are also at high risk because they are prone to illnesses that cause vomiting and diarrhea. Children must continue to get enough fluids through oral rehydration solutions or sports drinks to prevent this when sick. If you choose a sports drink, dilute it with 50 percent water for young children.

Also, some chronic illnesses and medications increase sweating and urination, causing you to lose fluids. Chronic illnesses associated with dehydration include cystic fibrosis and diabetes. In addition, medications used to control heart disease, kidney issues, and blood pressure can remove fluids from your body.

Finally, you’re at risk for dehydration if you work or exercise outside. Make sure you replenish fluids throughout the day, even if you don’t feel thirsty.

Don’t hesitate to visit the ER if you cannot rehydrate at home or the dehydration symptoms indicate that you require urgent care. Your medical team can rehydrate you and then find the cause for your condition.