If you have recently lost a lot of fluid but haven't had enough drinks to replace it, you may start experiencing dehydration symptoms such as headaches, lightheadedness and dark-colored urine. You should be able to reverse the condition by having extra fluids at home as long as your dehydration is mild. However, severe dehydration can be life-threatening and requires special treatment.
Most adults and older children can remedy mild to moderate dehydration by drinking extra water. If you have diarrhea, drinking fruit juices, carbonated drinks, coffee and milk can make the problem worse. No matter what the cause of the dehydration is, avoid drinking any beverages with caffeine or alcohol because they promote loss of fluids. Drink a small amount of water every 15 to 30 minutes rather than forcing it all down at once, particularly if you have been vomiting. You will know you are being properly hydrated when the color of your urine gets lighter. If you can't keep down any fluids, you may be able to tolerate sucking on ice chips.
Oral Rehydration Solution
Avoid rehydrating your infant or child with water alone, unless your pediatrician suggests it. Because infants and small children are susceptible to losing electrolytes when they become dehydrated, your pediatrician may recommend that you use an oral rehydration solution to reduce your child's risk of developing an electrolyte imbalance. If your child is ill but not showing signs of dehydration, your pediatrician may still suggest that you start giving your child the solution as a preventative step. Start by giving your child about 1 to 2 teaspoons of the solution with a syringe or spoon every few minutes, recommends KidsHealth. Your child may enjoy sucking on a freezer pop made with the electrolyte solution. An oral rehydration solution or sports drinks containing electrolytes may also be helpful if you're an adult who has become dehydrated due to excessive perspiration.
Call your pediatrician for advice as soon as possible if your baby is showing signs of dehydration such as lethargy, tearless crying and a dry and parched mouth. If you breastfeed your baby, continue nursing her unless she is vomiting regularly and offer her the oral rehydration solution between feedings, recommends KidsHealth. Your pediatrician may also recommend that you temporarily stop feeding your baby any formula or solids until she stops showing dehydration signs.
Lack of urination, confusion, extreme thirst and shriveled skin are signs and symptoms of severe dehydration, which requires immediate medical care. In this case, you may need salts and fluids through a vein because intravenous hydration replenishes your fluids and other essential nutrients faster than an oral rehydration solution can. Your doctor may also need to treat the underlying cause of the dehydration.