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Preventing Dehydration When You Have Diarrhea or Vomiting

Preventing Dehydration in the Elderly

Seniors are at increased risk of becoming dehydrated because they may not be as sensitive as younger adults to the sensation of thirst. In addition, age-related changes in the body’s ability to balance water and sodium increase the danger.

An elderly person sick with diarrhea and/or vomiting should try to drink at least 1.7 liters of fluid every 24 hours, or a little less than half a gallon. That’s the equivalent of about 7 eight-ounce glasses of water. Dehydration experts also recommend liquid meal replacements.

When to Get Help for Dehydration

Experts recommend calling your physician if diarrhea or vomiting persists for more than two days. Call sooner if there’s a fever or pain in the abdomen or rectum, if stool appears black or tarry, if signs of dehydration appear. “In general, if you or your child has diarrhea, it’s not improving and you’re worried, I’d say call your doctor,” Evans says.

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Reviewed on September 10, 2011
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