Dehydration means you don’t have enough water in your body. This can be caused by both loss of fluid and a lack of fluid intake. This will also result in you losing or missing important salts and nutrients.
You or your child may suffer from the following symptoms in case of dehydration:
- A drowsy and listless feeling.
- Can’t, or can barely, urinate.
- Rapid breathing.
- Deep set eyes.
- Cold hands, fingers, arms, toes, feet and legs.
- A fold of skin which stays up when you gently pull it up.
- A dry mouth and lips.
- A headache.
First of all, it’s very important for you to continue to drink a lot. Especially if you’re suffering from vomiting or diarrhoea. This is even more important for young children and the elderly, as dehydration can be particularly dangerous for them. You can do this by:
- Drinking small sips. Make sure you do this every 5 to 10 minutes.
- Drink more as soon as you feel less unwell.
We recommend wearing thin clothing in case of a fever. You’ll be sweating a lot and it’s important for you to be able to lose the heat. In addition, you can:
- Take paracetamol for fever and pain. This will relieve the pain and make drinking easier. Please read the package leaflet carefully for the correct dosage, or ask your pharmacist for advice.
- Take ORS. This contains sugars and salts which will retain the fluid in your body. ORS is available in various different forms from the chemist or pharmacy. Obtain advice about its use or carefully read through the package leaflet.
The same advice applies if your child has dehydration symptoms. However, you should be extra vigilant if your child has dehydration symptoms. It’s therefore always a good idea to obtain advice from your GP.
Call your GP immediately if:
- Your child has symptoms which are consistent with dehydration. This can be especially dangerous for children under 2 years old.
- You have symptoms which resemble dehydration and they last longer than 3 days.
- Your child is very unwell, drowsy and is difficult to wake up.
- You are very unwell, drowsy or virtually unresponsive.
- Your child continues to have diarrhoea and a fever.
- You are confused. Naturally also get in touch with your GP if this is the case with your child.
Contact your GP if:
- You or your child is losing 1 kilo per day.
- You or your child has a disease such as heart or kidney failure. This means you will only be able to take in a limited amount of fluid.
- You are travelling and the diarrhoea or vomiting has not diminished. The same advice applies to your child.
For more information, please refer to the advice given for diarrhoea and vomiting.