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Treating Dehydration with Care at Dignity Health

Dehydration is when your body has less water and other fluids than it needs. Since water and fluids are essential for all the organs in your body, untreated dehydration can quickly become life threatening. Infants, athletes, and the elderly are most at risk for dehydration.

In adults with mild to moderate dehydration, you may notice:

  • Thirst
  • Sluggishness and fatigue
  • Less urine, or not urinating as often as you normally do
  • Headache (recognized as the most common symptom)
  • Dry and sticky lips and mouth, including your tongue and gums
  • Dizziness

Are you experiencing the signs and symptoms of dehydration in Sacramento or a surrounding area? Head to your nearest Dignity Health ER for expertise and personalized treatment. In severe cases, call 911.


Seeking Emergency Care

Severe dehydration is a life-threatening condition in both children and adults. Seek immediate emergency care (call 911) for these symptoms:

  • Dry and shriveled skin with little elasticity
  • Muscle cramps
  • Sunken eyes
  • Urinating small amounts of dark-colored urine, or not urinating
  • Confusion
  • Severe diarrhea or vomiting
  • Weakness and dizziness
  • Change in consciousness or alertness

Look for these additional signs in infants:

  • Limp body posture
  • Sunken fontanel (soft spot on top of head)
  • Fussiness, or conversely, or sleepiness
  • No wet diapers for several hours and fewer tears than normal


What Causes Dehydration?

Dehydration is usually due to not drinking enough water to replace fluids lost through normal body functions like urinating and sweating. By the time you notice you are thirsty, you are already dehydrated.

Situations that can speed up dehydration include:

  • Excessive heat and low humidity
  • Drinking alcohol
  • High elevation
  • Extra activity and sweating


Diagnosing Dehydration in the Sacramento Region

The Dignity Health emergency team will do a physical exam and take blood and urine samples. These tests let your the know how severe your dehydration is and determine if there is an underlying cause of dehydration, such as diabetes.

Our team looks for:

  • Abnormal kidney function
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Low blood pressure


Dehydration Treatment & Prevention

You can treat mild to moderate dehydration in older children and adults by sipping water or drinks that contain electrolytes (such as sodium and potassium). In infants and young children, an oral rehydrating solution containing electrolytes is a common treatment.

Severe dehydration and some cases of moderate dehydration require hospitalization. You’ll receive intravenous (IV) fluids directly into your bloodstream. Your knowledgeable care team will run tests and monitor you closely for signs of complications, such as problems with your kidneys.

You can prevent dehydration by drinking several 8-ounce glasses of water and fluids containing electrolytes every day. Drink more if you are exercising, you’re at a high elevation, or you’re in a hot, dry climate.

Dignity Health provides dehydration treatment and care with humankindness in Sacramento, CA and the surrounding areas.