Dehydration occurs when your body loses too
much fluid. This can happen when you stop drinking water or lose large amounts
of fluid through diarrhea, vomiting, sweating, or
exercise. Not drinking enough fluids can cause muscle
cramps. You may feel faint. Usually your body can reabsorb fluid from your
blood and other body tissues. But by the time you become
severely dehydrated, you no longer have enough fluid
in your body to get blood to your organs, and you may go into
shock, which is a life-threatening condition.
Dehydration can occur in anyone of any age, but it is most dangerous for
babies, small children, and older adults.
small children have an increased chance of becoming
Older adults have an
increased chance of becoming dehydrated because they may:
Watch babies, small children, and older adults closely
for the early symptoms of dehydration anytime they have illnesses that cause
high fever, vomiting, or diarrhea. These are the early symptoms of dehydration:
Check your symptoms to decide if and when you
should see a doctor.
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In the early stages, you may be
able to correct
mild to moderate dehydration with home treatment
measures. It is important to control fluid losses and replace lost
If you become
mildly to moderately dehydrated while working outside or exercising:
Rest and take it easy for 24 hours, and continue to drink a
lot of fluids. Although you will probably start feeling better within just a
few hours, it may take as long as a day and a half to completely replace the
fluid that you lost.
dehydration develops to replace lost fluids. Offer
fluids to your baby often.
Call your doctor if any of the following occur during home
The following tips may help you prevent
Prompt home treatment for diarrhea, vomiting, or fever will help prevent dehydration.
To prepare for your appointment, see the topic Making the Most of Your Appointment.
You can help your
doctor diagnose and treat your condition by being prepared to answer the
August 17, 2012
William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
& H. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine
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