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Dehydration in Adults (cont.)

Dehydration in Adults Treatment

Treatment for dehydration in adults include home remedies like sipping on water; drinking sports drinks that replace lost nutrients; cooling the body; and removing any excess clothing from the person. Medical treatment for dehydration in adults includes hospitalization and replacement of fluids lost.

Dehydration in Adults Home Remedies

Try to get people who are dehydrated (even those who have been vomiting) to take in fluids in the following ways:

  • Sip small amounts of water.
  • Drink carbohydrate/electrolyte-containing drinks. Good choices are sports drinks such as Gatorade or prepared replacement solutions (Pedialyte is one example).
  • Suck on popsicles made from juices and sports drinks.
  • Suck on ice chips.
  • Sip through a straw (works well for someone who has had jaw surgery or mouth sores).

Try to cool the person, if there has been heat exposure or if the person has an elevated temperature in the following ways:

  • Remove any excess clothing and loosen other clothing
  • Air-conditioned areas are best for helping return the affected individual's body temperature to normal and break the heat exposure cycle.
  • If air-conditioning is not available, increase cooling by evaporation by placing the person near fans or in the shade, if outside. Place a wet towel around the person.
  • If available, use a spray bottle or misters to spray tepid (luke-warm) water on exposed skin surfaces to help with cooling by evaporation.
  • Avoid exposing skin to excessive cold, such as ice packs or ice water. This can cause the blood vessels in the skin to constrict and will decrease, rather than increase heat loss. Exposure to excessive cold can also cause shivering, which will increase body temperature, this may cause the dehydration symptoms to become worse.

Dehydration in Adults Medical Treatment

Treatment in the Emergency Department centers first on restoring fluid (blood) volume and electrolytes, and treating any life-threatening symptoms while also trying to determine the underlying cause(s) of the dehydration.

If the affected individual's core body temperature is greater than 104 F (40 C), doctors will cool the entire body. They may promote cooling by evaporation with mists and fans or cooling blankets and baths.

Fluid replacement in moderate to severe dehydration

  • If there is no nausea and vomiting, fluid replacement may begin orally for some patients with moderate dehydration. Patients are asked to drink electrolyte/carbohydrate-containing fluids along with water.
  • However, if there are signs of moderate to severe dehydration (elevated resting heart rate, low blood pressure), fluids are generally given through an IV.

Disposition

  • If the patient's condition improves enough (most symptoms stop) in the Emergency Department, the patient may be sent home, preferably in the care of friends or family. This is not an unusual result for many patients that arrive at an Emergency Department with moderate dehydration symptoms.
  • If the patient remains dehydrated, confused, feverish, has persistently abnormal vital signs, or signs of infection, they will likely be admitted to the hospital for additional treatment.

Acetaminophen (for example, Tylenol) or ibuprofen (for example, Advil) may be used. This can be given by mouth if the affected person is not vomiting or as a rectal suppository if they cannot take anything by mouth.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 9/19/2016

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