Dehydration medical therapy

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [2] Associate Editor(s)-in-Chief: Saumya Easaw, M.B.B.S.[3]

Overview

Nurses encouraging this patient to drink an Oral Rehydration Solution to improve dehydration he acquired fromcholera.
Courtesy:Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The best treatment for minor dehydration is drinking water and stopping fluid loss. Water is preferable to sport drinks and other commercially-sold rehydration fluids, as the balance of electrolytes they provide may not match the replacement requirements of the individual. To stop fluid loss from vomiting and diarrhea, avoid solid foods and drink only clear liquids.[1]

In more severe cases, correction of a dehydrated state is accomplished by the replenishment of necessary water and electrolytes (rehydration, through oral rehydration therapy or intravenous therapy). Even in the case of serious lack of fresh water (e.g., at sea or in a desert), drinking seawater or urine does not help, nor does the consumption of alcohol. It is often thought that the sudden influx of salt into the body from seawater will cause the cells to dehydrate and the kidneys to overload and shut down but it has been calculated that an average adult can drink up to 0.2 liters of seawater per day before the kidneys start to fail.

When dehydrated, unnecessary sweating should be avoided, as it wastes water. If there is only dry food, it is better not to eat, as water is necessary for digestion. For severe cases of dehydration where fainting, unconsciousness, or other severely inhibiting symptom is present (the patient is incapable of standing or thinking clearly), emergency attention is required. Fluids containing a proper balance of replacement electrolytes are given orally or intravenously with continuing assessment of electrolyte status; complete resolution is the norm in all but the most extreme cases.

Contraindicated medications

Dehydration is considered an absolute contraindication to the use of the following medications:

References

  1. "Healthwise Handbook," Healthwise, Inc., 1999



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