Oral Rehydration: Care Instructions

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Dehydration occurs when your body loses too much water. This can happen if you do not drink enough fluids or lose a lot of fluid due to diarrhea, vomiting, sweating, or fever. Being dehydrated can cause health problems and can even be life-threatening.

To replace lost fluids, it helps to drink liquids that contain special minerals called electrolytes. Electrolytes keep your body working well. Plain water does not have electrolytes. You also need to rest to prevent more fluid loss.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Take frequent sips of an electrolyte replacement drink. These can be found in grocery stores and drugstores. Examples of these are Pedialyte and Rehydralyte. These replace both fluid and important minerals called electrolytes you need for balance in your blood.
  • Do not drink any alcohol. It can make you dehydrated.
  • Drink plenty of fluids. If you have kidney, heart, or liver disease and have to limit fluids, talk with your doctor before you increase the amount of fluids you drink.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You have signs of severe dehydration, such as:
    • You are confused or unable to stay awake.
    • You passed out (lost consciousness).

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You still have signs of dehydration. You have sunken eyes, a dry mouth, and pass only a little urine.
  • You are dizzy or lightheaded, or you feel like you may faint.
  • You are not able to keep down fluids.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • You do not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

Go to http://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

Enter I040 in the search box to learn more about "Oral Rehydration: Care Instructions".

The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.