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Dehydration - Home Treatment

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.

Adults and children age 12 and older

If you become mildly to moderately dehydrated while working outside or exercising:

  • Stop your activity and rest.
  • Get out of direct sunlight and lie down in a cool spot, such as in the shade or an air-conditioned area.
  • Prop up your feet.
  • Take off any extra clothes.
  • Drink a rehydration drink, water, juice, or sports drink to replace fluids and minerals. Drink 2 qt (2 L) of cool liquids over the next 2 to 4 hours. You should drink at least 10 glasses of liquid a day to replace lost fluids. You can make an inexpensive rehydration drink at home. But do not give this homemade drink to children younger than 12. Measure all ingredients precisely. Small variations can make the drink less effective or even harmful. Mix the following:
    • 1 quart (950 mL) water
    • ½ teaspoon (2.5 g) table salt
    • 6 teaspoons (30 g) sugar

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.

Children ages 1 through 11

  • Make sure your child is drinking often. Frequent, small amounts work best.
  • For children with dehydration, an oral rehydration solution (ORS) or plain water (if the child is eating food) may be used to replace lost fluids.
  • Allow your child to drink as much fluid as he or she wants. Encourage your child to drink extra fluids or suck on flavored ice pops, such as Popsicles. Children ages 4 to 10 should drink at least 6 to 10 glasses of liquids to replace lost fluids.
  • Cereal mixed with milk or water may also be used to replace lost fluids.

Newborns and babies younger than 1 year of age

Don't wait until dehydration develops to replace lost fluids. Offer fluids to your baby often.

  • If you breast-feed your baby, nurse him or her more often.
  • If you use a bottle to feed your baby, the amount of fluid you normally use in the formula should be enough to replace lost fluids. Check with your child's doctor if you think you need to feed your baby more often.
  • Use an oral rehydration solution (ORS) if mild or moderate dehydration develops. The amount of ORS your baby needs depends on his or her weight and how dehydrated he or she is. You can give the ORS in a dropper, spoon, or bottle.
  • If your baby has started eating cereal, you may replace lost fluids with cereal. You also may feed your baby strained bananas and mashed potatoes if your child has had these foods before.

Symptoms to watch for during home treatment

Call your doctor if any of the following occur during home treatment:

  • More serious dehydration develops.
  • Decreased alertness develops.
  • You become dizzy or lightheaded, or you feel like you might faint when you rise from lying to sitting or from sitting to standing.
  • Decreased urination develops.
  • Symptoms become more severe or frequent.
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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: April 15, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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