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Dehydration in Adults (cont.)

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.

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