Skip to Content




is a condition that develops when your body does not have enough fluid. You may become dehydrated if you do not drink enough water or lose too much fluid. Fluid loss may also cause loss of electrolytes (minerals), such as sodium.

Common symptoms include the following:

  • Dry eyes or mouth
  • Increased thirst
  • Dark yellow urine
  • Urinating little or not at all
  • Tiredness or body weakness
  • Headache, dizziness, or confusion
  • Irregular or fast breathing, fast or pounding heartbeat, and low blood pressure
  • Sudden weight loss

Seek care immediately if:

  • You have a seizure.
  • You are confused or cannot think clearly.
  • You are extremely sleepy, or another person cannot wake you.
  • You become dizzy or faint when you stand.
  • You are not able to urinate.
  • You have trouble breathing.
  • You have a fast or irregular heartbeat.
  • Your hands or feet are cold, or your face is pale.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • You have trouble drinking liquids because you are vomiting.
  • Your symptoms get worse.
  • You have a fever.
  • You feel very weak or tired.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Treatment for dehydration

may include any of the following:

  • Oral liquids:
    • If you are mildly to moderately dehydrated, you may need an oral rehydration solution (ORS). This drink contains the right amount of salt, sugar, and minerals in water to replace body fluids. Ask your healthcare provider where you can get an ORS.
    • Drink an ORS in small amounts if you have been vomiting. If you vomit, wait 30 minutes and try again. Ask healthcare providers how much ORS you need when you are dehydrated and how often you should drink it.
    • A sports drink is not the same as an ORS. Do not drink sports drinks without asking your healthcare provider.
    • Do not drink soft drinks or fruit juices. These can make your condition worse.
  • You may receive fluid through an IV. Electrolytes may also be included in the fluid.
  • Hypodermoclysis gives your body a large amount of water quickly. The water is given into the deepest layer of your skin. Ask your healthcare provider for more information about hypodermoclysis.

Prevent or manage dehydration:

  • Drink liquids as directed. Liquids that contain water, sugar, and minerals can help your body hold in fluid and help prevent dehydration. Drink liquids throughout the day, not just when you feel thirsty. Men should drink about 3 liters (13 eight-ounce cups) of liquid each day. Women should drink about 2 liters (9 eight-ounce cups) of liquid each day. Drink even more liquid if you will be outdoors, in the sun for a long time, or exercising.
  • Stay cool. Limit the time you spend outdoors during the hottest part of the day. Dress in lightweight clothes.
  • Keep track of how often you urinate. If you urinate less than usual or your urine is darker, drink more liquids.

Follow up with your doctor as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

© Copyright IBM Corporation 2021 Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or IBM Watson Health

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Dehydration (Ambulatory Care)

Associated drugs

IBM Watson Micromedex

Mayo Clinic Reference

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.