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The best way to treat dehydration is to rehydrate the body by drinking plenty of fluids, such as water, diluted squash, diluted fruit juice or semi-skimmed milk.
A sweet drink can help to replace lost sugar. A salty snack can help to replace lost salt.
Infants and children who are dehydrated shouldn't be given water as the main replacement fluid because it can further dilute the minerals in their body and make the problem worse. Instead, they should be given diluted squash, diluted fruit juice or a special rehydration solution.
If you or your child is finding it difficult to hold down fluids because of vomiting or diarrhoea, take smaller amounts more frequently. If necessary, you could use a spoon or a syringe to give your child small amounts of fluids.
If you're dehydrated, you will have lost sugar and salts as well as water. Drinking a rehydration solution will 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.
Several different rehydration products are available from pharmacies or on prescription from your GP, including solutions that are suitable for infants and children. Ask your GP or pharmacist for advice.
If you suspect that someone is severely dehydrated, you should seek medical attention immediately. 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 or via a saline drip into a vein because this provides essential nutrients faster than using solutions that you drink.
If you've had bowel surgery, some rehydration solutions may not contain enough salt. In this case, you'll need a higher-strength solution. Your GP or surgeon will be able to recommend a suitable rehydration solution for you.