First Aid for Dehydration: What To Do If Someone Is Dehydrated
Dehydration can become life-threatening if it’s not treated quickly. Find out more about the condition and what signs to look for right here. This handy guide will show you the best practices when it comes to first aid for dehydration.
Once you recognize the signs of dehydration, you can jump into action and remedy the situation with an oral rehydration solution like DripDrop.
What Is Dehydration?
Dehydration is a condition where your body loses more fluids and electrolytes than it can replace. It’s a common side effect of heat-related illnesses such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke, but it can also occur in wintertime. Other common contributors to dehydration include illnesses that cause diarrhea, fever, and vomiting, as well as certain medications like diuretics.
You can also become dehydrated simply by not drinking enough fluids and electrolytes. In fact, you may be surprised how common dehydration actually is. Studies have shown that up to 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated.
Our bodies need more than just plain drinking water. We need electrolytes — charged minerals including sodium and potassium — in order to function properly. These electrolytes play a key role in muscle function. They send signals between your brain and organs and maintain adequate blood volume. Without the proper balance of electrolytes, we may experience headaches, fatigue, and muscle pain.
Understanding this vital connection between electrolytes and our bodies is key to providing proper first aid for dehydration. You can’t just give someone water when they’re suffering from dehydration. They need to replenish their electrolytes by using an electrolyte solution.
How To Tell If Someone Is Dehydrated
Before you can offer someone first aid for dehydration, you need to be able to recognize the signs of the condition. For cases of mild dehydration to moderate dehydration, you can manage the condition at home. Most cases of severe dehydration will require medical attention, so you’ll need to assess the severity of the situation and manage the patient while working to get them to a hospital as soon as possible.
Here are the most common signs of dehydration in mild to moderate cases:
- Extreme thirst
- Dry mouth or dry skin
- Decreased urination
- Elevated body temperature
- Low blood pressure
- Lightheadedness and fatigue
- Increased heart rate or heart palpitations
- Muscle cramps and heat cramps
People with severe dehydration may develop additional signs. These usually target the nervous system. Left untreated, dehydration can be life-threatening so it’s important to act fast if you recognize any of these signs.
Signs of severe dehydration include:
- Confusion and irritability
- Sunken soft spot on top of the head (in infants and young children)
- Sunken eyes
- No urination for several hours or very dark urine
- Fever and chills
First Aid for Dehydration
For cases of severe dehydration, first aid should be centered around stabilizing the patient and getting medical care quickly.
If you recognize the signs of severe dehydration, call 911 immediately. They will offer medical advice and help transport the patient to the hospital where they can receive appropriate care. Most treatment plans for severe dehydration involve the use of IV therapy to replace lost fluids and electrolytes.
For mild to moderate dehydration, the condition can largely be treated without a hospital visit. However, it’s a good idea to follow up with your doctor after a dehydration episode. Read on to learn more about first aid for dehydration and how you can help someone in a serious situation.
Offer Reassurance and Get Help if Needed
One of the best things you can do in a crisis is to remain calm. Help the person sit down, and focus on offering reassurance. Saying things like, “It’s going to be ok,” and, “We’re going to get you help,” can keep the patient from panicking.
Severe dehydration is a medical emergency, and you may need help from healthcare professionals to save the patient. If the person shows signs of severe dehydration, call 911 immediately and follow the responder’s instructions.
If possible, take the person to a shaded area or somewhere cool where they can sit. This is particularly important if the patient’s dehydration is due to strenuous exercise or a heat-related illness. Look around for a bench or a grassy area where the person can sit and rest. If the person has muscle pain caused by dehydration, have them gently stretch. Focus on creating a calm and relaxing environment to aid recovery.
To tackle dehydration, you need to help the person start rehydrating immediately. Offer them small sips of an oral rehydration solution like to replenish fluids fast. If you don’t have an oral rehydration solution on hand, offer the patient water until you can get access to one. For small children, you can use clear broth, clear fluids, ice chips, or an oral rehydration solution. Do not give a dehydrated patient soda or juice as this can worsen the condition.
When you’re dehydrated, water alone is not enough. Your body needs a precise balance of sodium and glucose to fight dehydration fast. That’s why it’s vital to have a dehydration protocol on hand to help in serious situations.
Lower the Temperature
Whether the patient is suffering from dehydration in peak summertime heat or after strenuous exercise or work at a job site, look for ways to decrease their body temperature safely. Help the patient remove any excess articles of clothing. Take off any hats and tight clothing like long sleeve shirts as well as shoes and socks. You can also loosen articles of clothing to help promote heat loss.
If you have an ice pack on hand, use that to bring the patient’s core temperature down. For the fastest results, place ice packs around their neck, groin, and armpits. These areas have large blood vessels near the surface of the skin, helping to bring down their temperature rapidly.
Keep an eye on the person's vital signs including heart rate, respiration rate, and body temperature. If the person is wearing a smartwatch, you may be able to track the exact metrics and relay this information to medical responders if needed. If not, you can check to see if their temperature decreases over time and monitor their pulse by counting the number of beats per minute.
How To Prevent Dehydration
While it’s good to know the basics of first aid for dehydration, it’s even better if you can avoid the condition in the first place. Fortunately, there are several easy steps you can take to protect yourself and your loved ones from dehydration.
Whether your job requires you to work outdoors in harsh conditions or you plan to enjoy the great outdoors even when it’s hot, preparation is key. It’s important to have an oral rehydration solution to help with dehydration. Take sips throughout the day to stay hydrated, and make sure to increase your fluid intake when you’re participating in strenuous activities.
Medical-grade DripDrop allows you to alleviate mild to moderate dehydration outside of a hospital setting and without the need for costly and painful IV therapy. Our patented formula is powerful enough to help patients suffering from dehydration caused by serious illnesses, including Ebola and cholera. But, it’s safe enough for everyday use. Plus, DripDrop tastes amazing and comes in a variety of flavors.
Besides focusing on hydration, you can make lifestyle choices to prevent dehydration. Try to limit strenuous activity when temperatures soar. Morning and evening hours tend to be cooler and are a great time to enjoy the outdoors without enduring oppressive midday heat. If you have to be outside, wear loose-fitting and lightweight clothing. Take breaks often to cool down whenever possible.
Dehydration doesn't just hit in the summertime — it can also happen in winter. Try to wear layers in cool weather so you can remove excess clothing if you get too hot when exercising or working in cold temperatures. Look for breathable and wicking fabrics and make sure to drink fluids throughout the day.
Tackle Dehydration With DripDrop
The best way to avoid dehydration is to stay on top of your hydration levels throughout the day. Make sure to drink plenty of water and electrolytes, especially if you’re working outdoors in hot weather or exerting a lot of energy. Having a high-quality dehydration protocol like DripDrop on hand is the best way to avoid the condition.
For cases of mild to moderate dehydration, DripDrop is a fast, effective, and great-tasting remedy. The convenient packaging allows you to have DripDrop when you need it, where you need it.