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Abdominal Problems


Prevention - Home Treatment - When to Call a Health Professional

Dehydration occurs when your body loses too much water. When you stop drinking water or lose large amounts of fluids because of diarrhea, vomiting, or sweating, your body's cells reabsorb fluid from the blood and other tissues. Severe dehydration can lead to shock, which can be life-threatening.

Dehydration is very dangerous for infants, small children, and older adults. Watch closely for its early signs anytime there is an illness that causes high fever, vomiting, or diarrhea. The early symptoms are:


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  • Prompt Home Treatment for illnesses that cause diarrhea, vomiting, or fever will help prevent dehydration. See the chart on See Abdominal Pain.

  • To prevent dehydration during hot weather or exercise, drink 8 to 10 glasses of fluid (water and/or sport drinks) each day. Drink extra water before, during, and after exercise.

Home Treatment

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Treatment of mild dehydration involves stopping the fluid loss and gradually replacing lost fluids.

When to Call a Health Professional

If the following signs of severe dehydration develop:
If vomiting lasts longer than 24 hours in an adult.
If a person is unable to hold down even small sips of fluid, and therefore cannot drink enough to replace lost fluids.
If severe diarrhea (large, loose stools every 1 to 2 hours) lasts longer than 2 days in an adult.


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