When to Seek Medical Attention for Dehydration

May 17, 2023

Dehydration is caused by a loss or lack of fluids in the body. Severe cases of dehydration can cause seizures, permanent brain damage, and even death. Here are the symptoms of dehydration, how it can be prevented and treated, and when to seek medical attention. For same-day acute dehydration treatment, visit the walk-in clinic at AFC Urgent Care Paramus!

Signs and symptoms of severe dehydration

Dehydration can be caused by losing fluids due to sweating, fever, vomiting, and diarrhea. Some of the symptoms of mild dehydration in adults include feeling thirsty, dry mouth, chapped lips, dark yellow urine, infrequent urination, muscle cramps, and headaches.

Severe symptoms of dehydration in adults include dry skin, rapid heartbeat or breathing, not urinating or having very dark yellow urine, dizziness, sunken eyes, fainting, confusion, or irritability. An infant suffering from dehydration may have a soft, sunken spot on their head. Deep, fast breathing and blotchy, cool hands and feet also indicate dehydration.

When to seek medical care for dehydration symptoms

If you or your child experience symptoms of mild dehydration, it can be treated at home. If any of the symptoms move into the severe category, it’s time to seek medical care. You should also seek medical attention if the dehydrated person is unable to retain any fluids due to illness or refuses to drink water.

If you’re unsure whether the dehydration is severe enough for medical care, it’s always best to play it safe. Dehydration can have lasting consequences and even cause death. Seek medical attention if the dehydrated person is an infant, child, or an older adult, or has a chronic illness.

Untreated moderate to severe dehydration can lead to serious complications, including heat exhaustion, heatstroke, kidney stones, kidney failure, disturbances in heart rhythm, seizures, shock, coma, and death.

Prevention and treatment options for dehydration

Although the consequences of dehydration can be severe, it is easily prevented and treated. Adults can prevent dehydration by drinking a sufficient amount of liquids every day. Most adults need to consume half their body weight in pounds in water in ounces each day. For example, if you weigh 200 pounds, you need to drink 100 ounces of water daily to stay properly hydrated. Warmer temperatures, increased physical activity, or anything else that causes the body to lose fluids requires consuming more water.

To treat mild symptoms of dehydration at home, you can sip water, electrolyte sports drinks, broth, or ginger ale. Avoid caffeinated or sugary drinks, as they can make dehydration symptoms worse. You can also try eating ice cubes or fruit popsicles.

If you go to the doctor or an urgent care center, medical treatment for dehydration may include the administration of an IV. The doctor can also monitor electrolyte levels.

The serious complications of dehydration, such as kidney stones or heatstroke, require immediate medical attention. But it’s best to prevent these outcomes by treating dehydration symptoms before they become more severe. AFC Urgent Care Paramus can treat acute cases of dehydration, seven days a week.

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