Dehydration (Adult)

Dehydration occurs when your body loses too much fluid. This may be the result of prolonged vomiting or diarrhea, excessive sweating, or a high fever. It may also happen if you don’t drink enough fluid when you’re sick or out in the heat. Misuse of diuretics (water pills) can also be a cause.

Symptoms include thirst, decreased urine output, and darker colored urine. You may also feel dizzy, weak, fatigued, or very drowsy. The diet described below is usually enough to treat dehydration. In some cases, you may need medicine.

Home care

  • Drink at least 12, 8-ounce glasses of fluid every day to resolve the dehydration. Fluid may include water; orange juice; lemonade; apple, grape, or cranberry juice; clear fruit drinks; electrolyte replacement and sports drinks; and teas and coffee without caffeine. Don't drink alcohol. If you have been diagnosed with a kidney disease, ask your doctor how much and what types of fluids you should drink to prevent dehydration. If you have kidney disease, fluid can build up in the body. This can be dangerous to your health.

  • If you have a fever, muscle aches, or a headache as a result of a cold or flu, you may take acetaminophen or ibuprofen, unless another medicine was prescribed. If you have chronic liver or kidney disease, or have ever had a stomach ulcer or gastrointestinal bleeding, talk with your healthcare provider before using these medicines. Don't take aspirin if you are younger than 18 and have a fever. In children with fever, aspirin raises the chance for severe liver injury and death.

Follow-up care

Follow up with your healthcare provider, or as advised.

When to seek medical advice

Call your healthcare provider right away if any of these occur:

  • Continued vomiting

  • Frequent diarrhea (more than 5 times a day); blood (red or black color) or mucus in diarrhea

  • Swollen abdomen or increasing abdominal pain

  • Reduced urine output or extreme thirst

  • Fever of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher

Call 911

Call 911 or get medical care right away if you have any of the following:

  • Weakness, dizziness, or fainting

  • Unusual drowsiness or confusion

  • Blood in vomit or stool

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