Note: For severe dehydration, seek immediate medical help.
Dehydration occurs when your body has lost more fluid than you have taken in. Remaining hydrated is critical to your overall health. Every cell in your body needs water, along with oxygen, to function properly.
Anyone can become dehydrated, but those at a higher risk include infants, young children, older adults, people with chronic illnesses, endurance athletes and people living at high altitudes.
Some common causes of dehydration are vigorous exercise in hot weather, diarrhea, vomiting, excessive sweating and increased urination.
The symptoms differ depending on whether the condition is mild or severe. Some symptoms of mild to moderate dehydration are dry mouth, fatigue, thirst, less urination, dry skin, headaches, constipation, muscle cramps and dizziness or lightheadedness.
Symptoms of severe or chronic dehydration are extreme thirst, confusion, little or no urination, sunken eyes, very dry mouth, dry skin that lacks elasticity, low blood pressure, rapid heartbeat, rapid breathing and even delirium or unconsciousness.
If not treated timely, dehydration can lead to several complications. You should seek medical help for severe dehydration, but you can treat mild dehydration at home.
Here are the top 10 home remedies for dehydration.
1. Increase Your Water Intake
The first step to treat dehydration is increasing your water intake. Water is usually enough to rehydrate adults. You should drink sufficient water even if you do not feel particularly thirsty.
- Sip small amounts of water and clear fluids throughout the day.
- Drink carbohydrate- or electrolyte-containing drinks.
- Suck on popsicles made from juices and sports drinks.
- Suck on freeze bottled water or ice chips at frequent intervals.
According to the Institute of Medicine, healthy adult men living in a temperate climate need an adequate intake of about 13 cups (3 liters) of total beverages in a day. Healthy adult women need about 9 cups (2.2 liters) of total beverages a day.
2. Homemade ORS
Prompt restoration of lost fluids and minerals is important when suffering from dehydration. One easy way to achieve this is with a homemade oral rehydration solution (ORS).
- Add ½ teaspoon of salt and 6 teaspoons of sugar (or brown sugar) to 4 cups of drinking water.
- Stir thoroughly until the salt and sugar dissolve completely.
- Drink this homemade ORS several times a day until you recover completely.
You can also buy ORS that are approved by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Yogurt is an effective remedy for dehydration due to diarrhea or vomiting. It is a good source of electrolytes. In addition, it is soothing to the stomach and easily digested.
- Eat a cup of plain yogurt a few times a day. You can also add a little cottage cheese in it.
- Another option is to eat plain boiled rice with yogurt and a little salt.
4. Watery Fruits and Vegetables
When suffering from mild to moderate dehydration, increase your intake of water-rich fruits and vegetables. According to a 2009 study done at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland, fruits and vegetables that are high in water content hydrate the body twice as effectively as a glass of water.
Such fruits and vegetables contain hydrating salts, minerals and sugars, hence they work in a way similar to the isotonic drinks favored by athletes.
Some fruits and vegetables with high water content are watermelon, cantaloupe, grapefruit, oranges, strawberries, cucumber, grapes, papaya, celery, lettuce, radishes, spinach, zucchini and tomatoes.
Eat these foods as snacks or add them to your salads and smoothies.
Bananas are another fruit that you can eat to treat mild dehydration. Dehydration causes loss of minerals like potassium in the body. Being rich in potassium, bananas can help restore this important mineral.
In addition, it helps restore normal functioning of cramped muscles, which occur due to excess water loss in the body.
- Eat 1 to 2 bananas during the day.
- You can also drink banana smoothies.
6. Coconut Water
Having a glass of coconut water can also help treat dehydration. The high electrolytes in coconut water make it a very hydrating drink. It is also relatively low in calories and sugar.
According to a 2012 study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, coconut water has a positive effect similar to sports drinks.
Drink a glass of tender coconut water a few times daily to rehydrate your body. As coconut water is rapidly absorbed by the cells, you will see quick results.
According to Ayurveda, buttermilk is a good remedy for mild dehydration. It provides the minerals required by the body that are lost during excessive sweating, one of the main causes of dehydration.
- Drink a glass of buttermilk a few times a day to help your body recover.
- Another option is to drink a cup of buttermilk mixed with ½ teaspoon of dry ginger, a few times a day.
8. Barley Water
Barley water is another good remedy to keep your body hydrated. The nutrients in barley help replenish minerals lost with dehydration. As it is easily digested and keeps the body cool, barley water can provide quick relief from dehydration symptoms.
- Mix 1 cup of soaked barley in 3 to 4 cups of water.
- Bring it to a boil, then simmer (covered) for 45 to 60 minutes.
- Allow it to cool, then strain it.
- Add a little lemon juice and honey.
- Drink barley water at regular intervals.
9. Lemon Water
Another excellent remedy for dehydration is lemon water. This soothing drink will help hydrate the body to keep you feeling energized and refreshed.
- Add the juice of ½ lemon to a glass of water.
- Add 1 teaspoon of raw honey, ½ teaspoon of black pepper powder and a pinch of salt.
- Drink this soothing drink at regular intervals.
10. Soups and Broths
Broths and broth-based soups can also be useful for hydrating the body. They help replenish lost fluid and minerals. Add water-rich vegetables like zucchini, radishes and celery to your soup to enhance its hydrating benefits.
Eat a bowl of chicken soup or broth. You can also consider eating soup pre-workout to help avoid dehydration and boost performance.
- Rest in a cool place and avoid any further exertion.
- To prevent dehydration, take a refillable water bottle with you when going out.
- When dehydrated, do not drink sodas, coffee or highly sugary beverages, as these can worsen your condition.
- Avoid alcohol if you are prone to dehydration. It has a dehydrating effect.
- Avoid too much fruit juice, as the sugar in it can raise your blood sugar levels.
- If you are regularly out in the heat or do vigorous exercise, wear breathable clothing.
- Do not exercise during the hottest part of the day, if you can avoid it.
- During dehydration, stick to bland foods for a couple of days.
- If dehydration is due to prolonged physical activity, consume a sports drink that contains electrolytes.