Drinking fluids is usually sufficient for mild dehydration. It is better to have frequent, small amounts of fluid (using a teaspoon or syringe for an infant or child) rather than trying to force large amounts of fluid at one time. Drinking too much fluid at once can bring on more vomiting.
Electrolyte solutions or freezer pops are especially effective. These are available at pharmacies. Sport drinks contain a lot of sugar and can cause or worsen diarrhea. In infants and children, avoid using water as the primary replacement fluid.
Intravenous fluids and hospitalization may be necessary for moderate to severe dehydration. The doctor will try to identify and then treat the cause of the dehydration.
When dehydration is recognized and treated promptly, the outcome is generally good.
Untreated severe dehydration may result in seizures, permanent brain damage, or death.
Call 911 if you or your child have the following symptoms
Call your doctor right away if you or your child has any of the following symptoms:
Also call your doctor if you are not sure whether your attempts to give your child proper fluids are working.
Also call your doctor if:
Barkin RM, Ward DG. Infectious diarrheal diseases and dehydration. In: Marx J, ed. Rosen’s Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 6th ed. St Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2006:chap 171.
Landry GL. Heat injuries. In: Kliegman RM, Behrman RE, Jenson HB, Stanton BF, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 18th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 688.
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