Dehydration: Care Instructions

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Your Care Instructions

Dehydration happens when your body loses too much fluid. This might happen when you do not drink enough water or you lose large amounts of fluids from your body because of diarrhea, vomiting, or sweating. Severe dehydration can be life-threatening.

Water and minerals called electrolytes help put your body fluids back in balance. Learn the early signs of fluid loss, and drink more fluids to prevent dehydration.

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 or nurse call line 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?

  • To prevent dehydration, drink plenty of fluids, enough so that your urine is light yellow or clear like water. Choose water and other caffeine-free clear liquids until you feel better. 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.
  • If you do not feel like eating or drinking, try taking small sips of water, sports drinks or other rehydration drinks.
  • Get plenty of rest.

To prevent dehydration

  • Add more fluids to your diet and daily routine, unless your doctor has told you not to.
  • During hot weather, drink more fluids. Drink even more fluids if you exercise a lot. Stay away from drinks with alcohol or caffeine.
  • Watch for the symptoms of dehydration. These include:
    • A dry, sticky mouth.
    • Dark yellow urine, and not much of it.
    • Dry and sunken eyes.
    • Feeling very tired.
  • Learn what problems can lead to dehydration. These include:
    • Diarrhea, fever, and vomiting.
    • Any illness with a fever, such as pneumonia or the flu.
    • Activities that cause heavy sweating, such as endurance races and heavy outdoor work in hot or humid weather.
    • Alcohol or drug abuse or withdrawal.
    • Certain medicines, such as cold and allergy pills (antihistamines), diet pills (diuretics), and laxatives.
    • Certain diseases, such as diabetes, cancer, and heart or kidney disease.

When should you call for help?

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

  • You passed out (lost consciousness).

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You are confused and cannot think clearly.
  • You are dizzy or light-headed, or you feel like you may faint.
  • You have signs of needing more fluids. You have sunken eyes and a dry mouth, and you pass only a little dark urine.
  • You cannot keep fluids down.

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

  • You are not making tears.
  • Your skin is very dry and sags slowly back into place after you pinch it.
  • Your mouth and eyes are very dry.

Where can you learn more?

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

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