How to treat dehydration

How to treat dehydration

Dehydration occurs when you lose a lot more fluid than you’re taking in. Without sufficient water and other fluids, the body breaks down at the cellular level and can’t perform its normal function.

Dehydration is a potentially serious medical condition that can crop up when you don’t drink enough fluid on a hot day outdoors or when a stomach bug hits you. You’re vomiting, sweating from a high fever, urinating, and diarrhoea.

In mild to moderate instances of dehydration, you can treat yourself at home, but in more severe instances, don’t hesitate to seek medical help.

 According to emedicinehealth, if you are running a fever over 38.33 degrees Celsius and can’t pass urine, have difficulty breathing and have chest or abdominal pain, then you have to seek medical treatment for dehydration immediately. 

Treatment consists of drinking fluids that contain electrolytes and carbohydrates. Depending on the severity, you may be given IV fluids. 

Keep in mind those in the risk categories for dehydration are the elderly, infants, and children.

Causes of dehydration

Many conditions lead to continued fluid loss and dehydration. It is not enough to just drink water. You need to replenish with an electrolyte solution. With the loss of fluid, the body suffers significant losses in sodium, potassium and magnesium. 

These are some of the underlying conditions that may lead to dehydration: 

  • Fever: running a high temperature 
  • Weather conditions; too much heat or cold exposure could lead to excessive loss of fluid in your body.
  • Frequent urination: Passing a lot of urine either through being diabetic or being on diuretic medication 
  • Excess sweating; too much sweating during workout or exercise sessions or work-related activity
  • Infection: vomiting, diarrhoea, sweating and increased urination
  • Chronic diseases: diabetes and kidney diseases
  • Age: the elderly and the very young may have difficulty getting enough fluids. They may be unable to reach for the proper fluids and foods. This also happens to disabled people.
  • Hampered by illness, a sick baby, someone in a coma or on a respirator may be too weak to take in enough fluid.
  • Skin injuries: fluid loss increases when the skin is damaged – burns, mouth sores, psoriasis, severe skin diseases, and skin infections and injuries. 
  • Unsafe water, contaminated drinking water supplies, or unsafe drinking water may also lead to dehydration. These types of situations usually exist in rural areas or informal settlements. 

Signs and symptoms of dehydration

If you don’t pick up on dehydration quickly, it may worsen to include specific signs and symptoms in adults and children. 

In mild to moderate dehydration, you may present with these: 

  • Dry mouth and increased thirst
  • Headache and fever
  • Fatigue, tiredness, sleepy 
  • Decrease in urine or no: if urine is passed, it is usually concentrated and deep yellow or amber in colour
  • Dry skin and poor skin elasticity
  • Dizziness or light-headedness which causes difficulty in standing and walking normally
  • Few or no tears
  • Drop-in blood pressure or orthostatic hypotension – the pressure drops when you try to stand after lying down  
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Seizure and shock
  • Lethargy, confusion or coma

The signs and symptoms in infants and children are a dry mouth, sunken eyes and cheeks, increased sleepiness, lack of energy, increased tiredness, dry diapers for more than three hours and no tears when they cry. Dehydration in children must be treated immediately.

According to Functional Medicine, dehydration is accompanied by other side effects. These are:

  • bad breath,
  • frequent chills;
  • cravings for sweets,
  • muscle pain;
  • headaches,
  • and dry skin. 

Prevention is better than cure.

With any implementation of preventative health measures, the advice is always to avoid alcohol and to quit smoking. In this case, it leads to dehydration no matter how much alcohol you are consuming. Smoking is a slow build-up to dehydration. 

You should drink plenty of water and pure extracted juice for bursts of activity. Following a healthy diet that includes plenty of hydrating fruits and vegetables is essential when leading an active lifestyle. 

The topwater and nutrient-rich foods to include in your health plan are cucumbers celery. Iceberg lettuce, zucchini, watermelon, strawberries, green bell peppers, radishes and tomatoes.  

For those excursions outdoors, such as hiking or trail running, the experts suggest you take along a low kilojoule electrolyte sports drink or carry along a rehydrate sachet and enough water. You should also wear light-weight and light-coloured clothes for any vigorous outdoor activities. 

Rehydration remedies

If you are suffering from mild to moderate dehydration, these remedies should help you until you get to a pharmacist or your doctor.

Besides clear vegetable soups with barley, lemon water with honey and a cup of plain yoghurt with a pinch of salt that will give you restorative minerals, the following foods are useful: 

  • Homemade Oral Rehydration Solution is made of ½ teaspoon of salt, six teaspoons of brown sugar, 4 cups of water. You can drink about 3 litres a day of the solution. 
  • Two bananas a day for the instant replenishing of potassium
  • Coconut water, about five times a day for sodium and potassium
  • Freshly squeezed orange, cranberry or apple juices.


iER is an essential emergency service and is fully operational during the lockdown. At the click of a button, you can access the emergency service you require. 

A great feature on the iER app is the Cell feature that allows for several members to create a ‘support cell’. Get all of your neighbours to join it, so you can send emergency assistance at the push of a button. 

To create a new cell, click on the ‘Plus Sign’ in the app and select the type of cell you would like to create. Give your cell a name (Like Neighbourhood Watch) and select ‘OK’. Once your cell has been created, you can add friends to your cell by going into the cell and choosing from your iER App friends.

For any further information, please contact us on 0861 10 60 80. Alternatively, email us at


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