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.
Babies and small children have an increased chance of becoming dehydrated because:
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.
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 fluids.
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.
Don't wait until dehydration develops to replace lost fluids. Offer fluids to your baby often.
Call your doctor if any of the following occur during home treatment:
The following tips may help you prevent dehydration.
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 following questions:
|Primary Medical Reviewer||William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine|
|Specialist Medical Reviewer||H. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine|
|Last Revised||November 10, 2011|
Last Revised: November 10, 2011
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