How to prevent dehydration when you’re sick

October 27, 2020 | by Edward-Elmhurst Health
Categories: Healthy Driven Life

Drinking enough fluids is important for everyday wellness, but it becomes a crucial element of care when you are sick.

Staying hydrated helps the body’s organs and muscles work properly. To stay hydrated, drink decaffeinated beverages (mainly water) throughout the day, not just when you’re thirsty.

When you’re sick with vomiting or diarrhea, it’s even more important to drink water, as your body loses essential fluid it needs to function. Yet, it’s not always easy to hydrate when you aren’t feeling well — nausea and fatigue can prevent you from wanting to swallow anything.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers advice to help you avoid dehydration when sick, including:

  • If you aren’t eating well, drink liquids. Avoid alcohol or drinks with caffeine in them such as soft drinks, tea and coffee.
  • Older adults and people with kidney problems should check with their doctor about safe amounts of liquid to drink when sick.
  • Try clear fluids such as water, broth or sports drinks.
  • Use a squeeze bottle or a straw if you’re too weak to drink from a cup. Try sucking on ice chips or ice pops.
  • Continue to nurse or bottle feed your baby. Babies get all the fluid they need from breastfeeding or formula.

It’s extremely important to avoid dehydration. Mild cases can be treated at home, but severe dehydration often requires hospitalization.

If you’re dehydrated, it may not always be obvious. One telltale sign is dark yellow-colored urine. When you are hydrated enough, your urine will be clear or very pale yellow.

Sometimes when you don’t drink enough water, you can get a headache or migraine, too.

Call your primary care physician or visit an Edward-Elmhurst Health Immediate Care Center if you notice these symptoms (in children or adults):

  • Not able to make tears
  • Producing less than a normal amount of urine. In babies you may see fewer wet diapers or diapers that weigh less than normal.
  • Dried-out skin that takes a long time to go back to position when pinched
  • Dry mouth or dry eyes
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Blood in the stool or blood in vomit
  • A child with a fever for 12 or more hours who is not able to drink fluids, is throwing up or having diarrhea
  • The child may be cranky or irritable, hard to wake up, have little energy or appear “rag doll weak.”

Book your next appointment online or download the MyEEHealthTM mobile app.

Get quick, convenient, advanced medical care — right here, right now. Our Immediate Care Centers are a convenient option for dehydration caused by illness. Check locations and wait times.

At Edward-Elmhurst Health, your safety and well-being continue to remain our top priority. Learn more about our Safety Commitment.


8 tips to help your partner lower their risk for heart disease

No need to sit on the sidelines and let your partner do all the work when it comes to better heart health.

Read More

hd life pots syndrome

What is POTS, and how do you know if you have it?

There has been a “sharp rise” in the incidence of a disorder that includes dizzy spells and fainting since the COVID-1...

Read More


What’s the right heart health test for me?

Heart disease is often a "silent" disease without symptoms or warnings until an event, such as a heart attack or stroke.

Read More