Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

Dehydration Treatment

Treatment for dehydration may include increased oral fluids, a clear liquid diet, and the use of medications to control vomiting and diarrhea. Those who have severe dehydration, or those who are unable to tolerate oral fluids, may require treatment with intravenous (IV) fluids. Additional treatment is directed at the underlying cause for the dehydration.

Treatment options for dehydration include:


Oral Rehydration Therapy
ORT fluids used in infants include:
  • Infalyte
  • Lytren
  • Naturalyte
  • Pedialyte
  • Rehydralyte

ORT fluids used in older children and adults include:
  • Sports drinks (Gatorade)
  • Broth
  • Dilute fruit juices
  • Flat soda
  • Weak tea with sugar

Strategies for breast-fed infants younger than 6 months:
  • If the infant tolerates breast milk, continue breast-feeding in small amounts very frequently.
  • Provide additional ORT fluids to supplement breast milk.
  • Feed very small amounts every 30-60 minutes, or try giving small amounts more frequently, such as:
    • Children up to 5 kg (11 lb): give 5 ml (1 teaspoon) every 5 minutes
    • Children 5-10 kg (11-22 lb) and adults: give 10 ml (2 teaspoons) every 5 minutes
  • Watch for dehydration: dry mouth, decreased urination, dark yellow urine and lack of tears.

Strategies for formula-fed infants younger than 6 months:
  • If the infant tolerates formula, continue to provide small amounts very frequently.
  • Provide additional ORT fluids to supplement formula.
  • Try giving small amounts more frequently, such as:
    • Children up to 5 kg (11 lb): give 5 ml (1 teaspoon) every 5 minutes
    • Children 5-10 kg (11-22 lb): give 10 ml (2 teaspoons) every 5 minutes
  • Watch for dehydration: dry mouth, decreased urination, dark yellow urine and lack of tears.

Strategies for children over 6 months:
  • Provide as much ORT fluids as your child desires.
  • If vomiting occurs, provide small amounts of ORT fluids more frequently:
    • Children 10-20 kg (22-44 lb): 15 ml (1 tablespoon) every 5 minutes
    • Children 20-40 kg (44-88 lb): 22 ml (1 and 1/2 tablespoons) every 5 minutes
    • Children 40 kg (88 lb) and over: 30 ml (2 tablespoons) every 5 minutes
  • Watch for dehydration: dry mouth, decreased urination, dark yellow urine and lack of tears.

Dehydration Specialist

Physicians from the following specialties evaluate and treat dehydration:

Continue to Dehydration Home Care

Last Updated: Jun 9, 2011 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Dehydration References
  1. Armstrong LE. Hydration assessment techniques. Nutr Rev. 2005 Jun;63(6 Pt 2):S40-54. [16028571]
  2. Posthauer ME. Hydration: an essential nutrient. Adv Skin Wound Care. 2005 Jan-Feb;18(1):32-3. [15714035]
  3. Sentongo TA. The use of oral rehydration solutions in children and adults. Curr Gastroenterol Rep. 2004 Aug;6(4):307-13. [15245700]
  4. Ulrickson M. Oral rehydration therapy in children with acute gastroenteritis. JAAPA. 2005 Jan;18(1):24-29. [15675116]
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