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.
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 any time they have illnesses that cause high fever, vomiting, or diarrhea. The early symptoms of dehydration are:
Signs of severe dehydration include:
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. This may send you into shock, which is a life-threatening condition.
To prevent dehydration, drink 8 to 10 glasses of fluid (water and/or sports drinks) each day. Drink additional water before, during, and after exercise.
Treatment of mild dehydration involves stopping the fluid loss and gradually replacing lost fluids. Once the vomitting or diarrhea is under control, drink water a sip at a time until your stomach can handle larger amounts. If vomitting or diarrhea lasts longer than 24 hours, sip a rehydration drink such as Pedialyte or Gastrolyte to replace fluids and electrolytes in your body. They will prevent severe dehydration from occurring.
For severe dehydration, see your health professional immediately.