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. Some medicines such as water pills (diuretics) can also be a cause.

Symptoms include thirst, less urine than usual, and darker-colored urine. You may also feel dizzy, weak, very tired, or very drowsy. You may also have muscle aches and headache. 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 until you are no longer dehydrated. Fluid can include:

    • Water

    • Orange juice

    • Lemonade

    • Apple, grape, or cranberry juice

    • Clear fruit drinks

    • Electrolyte replacement and sports drinks

    • Tea

    • Decaffeinated coffee

  • Don't drink alcohol.

  • If you have been diagnosed with a kidney disease or heart failure, ask your doctor how much and what types of fluids you should drink to prevent dehydration. These diseases can cause fluid to build up in the body. This can be dangerous to your health.

  • If you have a fever, muscle aches, or a headache from a cold or flu, you may take acetaminophen, naproxen, or ibuprofen, unless another medicine was prescribed. Talk with your healthcare provider before using these medicines if you have chronic liver or kidney disease, or had a stomach ulcer or digestive bleeding.

Follow-up care

Follow up with your healthcare provider as advised.

When to seek medical advice

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

  • Continued vomiting

  • Diarrhea that happens more than 5 times a day or mucus in diarrhea

  • Swollen belly (abdomen) or belly pain that gets worse

  • Less urine than usual or extreme thirst

  • Fever of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher, or as directed by your healthcare provider

Call 911

Call 911 right away if you have any of the following:

  • Weakness, dizziness, or fainting

  • Unusual drowsiness or confusion

  • Vomit or stool is red or black

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