Treating dehydration

The best way to treat dehydration is to rehydrate the body by drinking plenty of fluids, such as water, diluted squash or diluted fruit juice.

A sweet drink can help to replace lost sugar, and a salty snack can help to replace lost salt.


If your baby is dehydrated, takethem to see your GPas soon as possible. They'll be able to recommend appropriate treatments, such as those outlined below.

Giveyour baby plenty of liquids, such as breastmilk or formula. It can often be better to give them smaller amounts of fluid more frequently.

Don't dilute your baby's formula (if you use it). Babies who are formula-fedand those on solids can begiven extra water.

Avoid giving your baby fruit juice, particularlyif they have diarrhoea and vomiting,because it canmake it worse.

Giving your baby regular sips(a few times an hour) of oral rehydration solution (ORS)in addition to their usual feed (breastmilk, formula milkand water) will help to replace lost fluids, salts and sugars.

Infants and children

Infants and children who are dehydrated shouldn't be given solely water, because it can dilute the already low level of minerals in their body and make the problem worse. Instead, they should have diluted squash or a special ORS (see below).

If you or your child is finding it difficult to hold down fluids because of vomiting, take smaller amounts more frequently.You may find it easier touse a spoon or a syringe to give your child small amounts of fluid.

Drinking a rehydration solutionwill enable you to re-establish the right balance of body fluids. The solution should contain a mixture of potassium and sodium salts, as well as glucose or starch.

There are several different rehydration products available over the counter from pharmacies or on prescription from your GP, including solutions that are suitable for infants and children.

Ask your GP or pharmacist for advice about the most suitable rehydration solution for you or your child.

Severe dehydration

Seekimmediatemedicalhelp if you suspect someone is severely dehydrated (see symptoms of severe dehydration).

They may need to be admitted to hospital for treatment. In particular, babies, infants and elderly people will need urgent treatment if they become dehydrated.

Fluid may be given up the nose using a nasogastric tube orusinga saline drip into a vein (intravenously). This will provide essential nutrients faster than using solutions that you drink.

If you have had bowel surgery, some rehydration solutions may not contain enough salt. In this instance, you will need a higher-strength solution. Your GP or surgeon can recommend a suitable rehydration solution for you.

Content supplied by the NHS Website

Medically Reviewed by a doctor on 28 Nov 2016