How to Properly Rehydrate After Diarrhea or Vomiting

How to Properly Rehydrate After Diarrhea or Vomiting

Several different illnesses can cause diarrhea and vomiting. These symptoms can result from a bacterial infection, a parasite, a life-threatening illness or even a simple case of food poisoning. Dehydration is a common side effect of both prolonged diarrhea and vomiting. Dehydration is caused when fluids in the body are lost faster than they’re replaced. Some symptoms of dehydration can include:

  • Dry mouth.
  • Dry tongue.
  • Feeling thirsty.
  • Fatigue.
  • Sunken eyes or cheeks.
  • Decreased skin turgor.
  • Less frequent urination.
  • Darker urine.
  • Fainting.

Dehydration can become a dangerous issue if left unchecked, especially in young children and those with weakened immune systems. In severe cases, it can even be life-threatening. Once you recognize dehydration symptoms, it’s important to treat them as soon as possible. 

How to Replenish Electrolytes After Diarrhea or Vomiting

When suffering from dehydration, the first solution that might come to mind is to drink water. While this is a good way to restore lost fluids, pure water lacks other crucial minerals lost during diarrhea or vomiting — electrolytes. Electrolytes include minerals such as sodium, potassium, and calcium, which are all important for healthy bodily function. Even if fluids are restored, a lack of electrolytes can have a negative effect on the body. 

Thankfully, there are several easy ways to restore electrolytes. Many sports drinks, such as Gatorade, are specifically made to restore electrolytes normally lost from sweating. You can also drink 100% fruit juice, non-caffeinated beverages such as tea, or simple broths. You can also eat electrolyte-restoring foods such as bananas, avocados and yogurt. If you’re having a hard time swallowing, you can suck on ice cubes or fruit pops. Avoid caffeinated, alcoholic or excessively sugary beverages, as these can increase dehydration symptoms. 

There are also specially-made electrolyte solutions, called oral rehydration solutions, meant to combat dehydration. While these are ideal for children suffering from dehydration, you can drink them at any age. A balanced oral rehydration solution should contain a mix of water, electrolytes and carbohydrates such as sugar. Oral rehydration solutions are available at most grocery stores. If you’re unable to purchase them, you can make your own from a mix of coconut water, salt and calcium-magnesium. 

How to Replenish Electrolytes After Diarrhea or Vomiting

If dehydration becomes too severe or none of the above options appeal to you, there’s another potential treatment for dehydration — IV therapy. 

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Will an IV Help With Diarrhea?

IV therapy refers to the practice of delivering fluids, nutrients and medicine directly to a person’s body through their veins, usually in the arm. IV therapy is often used in cases of severe dehydration to quickly restore lost fluids and nutrients. 

There are several benefits to IV therapy for electrolyte restoration over oral methods. IV therapy restores lost nutrients more quickly than oral ingestion. Using an IV also provides electrolytes more efficiently due to the fact that you can adjust the solution depending on what the patient needs the most. If the patient suffers from repeated vomiting, IV therapy also removes the risk of regurgitating ingested substances. 

However, there are certain drawbacks to traditional IV therapy. Since an IV is inserted directly into the vein, the process can cause mild discomfort upon insertion that may continue throughout the procedure. Moving around too much during the procedure can dislodge the needle, leading to the solution being injected into the tissue surrounding the vein instead. Extended IV use can lead to vein collapse, especially in children. This process, while non-life-threatening, does require reinsertion of the IV. 

Additionally, IV therapy for moderate to severe dehydration is usually an inpatient procedure, which requires you to fill out paperwork and stay in the clinic or hospital until you’re released by a medical professional. This process can cost you hours of time. 

Thankfully, Mobile IV Medics removes many of the unpleasant possibilities of IV therapy. We’ll come directly to your location upon appointment, eliminating the need for you to visit a clinic yourself. We use a topical numbing agent on the point of insertion, so the process is relatively painless. Our customizable packages mean that we can alleviate the symptoms of dehydration along with migraines and hangovers. 

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IV Fluids for Diarrhea and Vomiting

In the case of dehydration treatment, IV therapy usually involves a saline mixture that contains sodium, sugars like glucose or dextrose, and electrolytes such as potassium. IV solutions are made using crystalloid solutions, which aid water passage in your cells through osmosis. There are three types of crystalloid solutions — hypotonic, hypertonic and isotonic. 

  • Hypotonic: Used to treat dehydration from metabolic acidosis, diabetic ketoacidosis and hypernatremia, which occurs when sodium levels are too high. Hypotonic solutions lead to water moving from extracellular fluid to intracellular fluid — from the space outside of your cells to the space inside. This process is due to the lower quantity of solutes in the solution when compared to blood plasma. 
  • Hypertonic: Used to treat hyponatremia, a condition where your body is sodium-deficient. Hypertonic solutions contain higher amounts of solutes and cause fluid to travel from your cells to intravascular spaces — spaces inside blood vessels.
  • Isotonic: This is the most common type of IV fluid. Used for electrolyte loss caused by diarrhea, vomiting or other methods of rapid fluid loss, as well as general electrolyte imbalances. Isotonic solutions contain a near-qual amount of solutes when compared to blood plasma, meaning it supplies fluid to both extracellular and intracellular spaces. 

Mobile IV Medic’s rehydration treatment is a simple saline solution, made from a mixture of water, electrolytes and sodium chloride. Proper rehydration will lead to a wide array of positive effects, including:

  • Prevention of dry mouth.
  • Smoother skin.
  • Better concentration and heightened focus.
  • Improved mood.
  • Higher energy levels.
  • Improved cardiovascular health.

What’s more, you can add various additions to your rehydration package for more benefits. You can choose to include vitamins such as B, B-12, C and D, anti-nausea medication to ease vomiting or anti-heartburn medication to ease symptoms of acid reflux. 

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Diarrhea and vomiting are unpleasant enough on their own, and dehydration can make them even worse. While drinking water, juice or even oral rehydration solutions can help, there are other ways to restore lost fluids and nutrients. IV therapy is a fast, easy way to rehydrate and alleviate symptoms of dehydration. 

Mobile IV Medics makes IV therapy quick, convenient and affordable to those in California, Colorado, Texas, Florida, Nevada or Georgia. We offer a variety of services to alleviate symptoms from dehydration, hangovers and more. Visit our website if you’re interested in booking an appointment with us or check out our contact page for more information. Take the first step, and we’ll bring rejuvenation to your door!

About the author

Brad
Brad Wenderoth, Pharm.D.

Brad Wenderoth, Pharm.D. is a licensed pharmacist and co-owner of Mobile IV Medics. With over 16 years of healthcare experience, Brad is bringing his expertise and passion for patient care to the Mobile IV Medics patient population. Prior to Mobile IV Medics, Brad worked in varying areas including both direct patient care and hospital leadership at Keck Medicine of the University of Southern California (USC) in Los Angeles, nationwide health system pharmacy consulting for Comprehensive Pharmacy Services (CPS), and professor of pharmacy at the USC School of Pharmacy. He holds a doctorate in pharmacy from the University of Arizona, a pharmacy practice residency from USC, and a lean six sigma green belt from Johns Hopkins.