Dehydration is about so much more than feeling like your mouth is made of sandpaper. Sure, a dry mouth is pretty annoying. Some of the signs of dehydration can be increased thirst, decreased urine output and feeling lethargic.

To avoid dehydration, it helps to understand the role that water and electrolytes play in your body, how your body loses fluid and electrolytes, and what you can do to keep your body well-hydrated. If you do get dehydrated, then it helps to know how to treat it properly.

Both water and electrolytes play a vital role in keeping you hydrated

Fluids in, fluids out

Every day, your body maintains a careful balance between fluids in and fluids out. These fluids usually enter your body through a normal, healthy diet that includes plenty of water; and are lost via urine, sweat, saliva and other bodily fluids.

Sometimes, things get off-balance. You might have a bout of gastro causing vomiting and diarrhoea, you might not be drinking enough fluids during illness, you might sweat heavily due to hot weather conditions or exercise.

Why does your body need water and electrolytes?

To function correctly, your body needs both water and electrolytes (such as sodium, potassium and chloride).

Water helps to maintain body temperature, digest food and lubricate tissues and joints. Electrolytes, help to retain fluid, and maintain good nerve and muscle function.

Top tips to avoid and treat dehydration

  1. Aim to drink 8 to 10 glasses of water each day. Keeping a water bottle on hand is a great way to hit this quota.
  2. If it’s a hot, dry day then increase your fluid intake – these conditions increase your likelihood of becoming dehydrated.
  3. Learn to recognise the signs and symptoms of dehydration. These include a sticky or dry mouth, increased thirst, fatigue, headache, decreased urine output and dark yellow urine.
  4. Hydralyte can be taken on the first signs of dehydration.
  5. Avoid mixing Hydralyte with sugary drinks as they can actually interfere with the rehydration process (plus, if you have diarrhoea, they can make the condition worse).
  6. To minimise the effects of alcohol-induced dehydration, sip on a glass of Hydralyte before bed to replace water and electrolytes.

Dehydration is very common after excessive alcohol consumption. Classic symptoms after a big night out can include a dry mouth, fatigue and a headache.

The good news is that you can reduce the effects of dehydration with a bit of pre-planning. It’s all about making sure that you replace the fluids you lose when you drink alcohol with the right liquids. Sometimes, water isn’t enough – an oral rehydration solution like Hydralyte can be more effective.

The suggested dose for Hydralyte after drinking alcohol is 400mL, sipped slowly

Why does alcohol dehydrate you?

Fact 1: Alcohol acts as a diuretic (a substance that increases urine output)

Fact 2: For every standard drink you consume (10 mg of pure alcohol) you are likely to urinate 100 mL more than you drink, leading to dehydration

Fact 3: Headache, dry mouth, fatigue and dizziness are symptoms of dehydration

Fact 4: Hydralyte is an effective treatment of dehydration

The National Health and Medical Research Council (Australia) recommends that adult men and women drink no more than 4 standard drinks on any one drinking occasion. Above that number is considered excess and can increase the risk of health-related injuries.

Excessive alcohol consumption involving 6 to 10 standard drinks could therefore lead to a net fluid loss of 600–1000 mL or more, and therefore dehydration.

How can Hydralyte help you feel better?

If you are planning on having a night out, you can take steps to minimise the likelihood of becoming dehydrated.

Drinking non-alcoholic beverages (e.g. water, juice) during and soon after alcohol consumption may reduce the level of dehydration.
However, drinking an oral rehydration solution (Hydralyte) offers some advantages:

  • Rehydration is likely to be more rapid
  • The retention of water and electrolytes is enhanced
  • A person may experience better sleep (and therefore feel better afterwards) due to the lessened urge to urinate during the night

How can you avoid becoming dehydrated?

  1. Try and get into the habit of having a glass of water for every second drink.
  2. Pack a sachet of Hydralyte in your pocket (gents) or a tube of tablets in your clutch (ladies) just as you would your keys or lipgloss – this will be a godsend when you see it throughout the drinking session… it’s also a great way to make friends if you have some to share!
  3. Always have a supply of Hydralyte in the fridge or leave some on the kitchen bench as a reminder when you get home.
  4. Hydrating with 200-400 mL of a product like Hydralyte before you go to bed, rather than when you wake up dehydrated, will go a long way to making the next day more bearable.

Suggested dose

Take 400 mL of Hydralyte (slowly) after the drinking occasion and prior to going to bed.

Before you take Hydralyte

  • Consult with your doctor or pharmacist if you intend to take Hydralyte for more than three days in a row
  • Hydralyte contains approx. 0.8mg/mL potassium – if you have kidney disease or are taking heart or blood pressure medicines, then consult your doctor before using Hydralyte
  • Hydralyte contains sodium – refer to packaging for content

Vomiting and diarrhoea can be caused by highly contagious viral infections, and can spread through your family fast. It’s no fun for anyone.

The biggest risk associated with vomiting and diarrhoea is dehydration from losing a large amount of fluid and electrolytes. Dehydration can be alleviated by sipping on small amounts of an electrolyte solution like Hydralyte while you recover and get back on your feet.

You can recover faster by rehydrating with an electrolyte solution like Hydralyte.

What causes vomiting and diarrhoea?

Tummy bugs come in many shapes and forms.

There are viral infections like rotavirus and norovirus, which can spread like wildfire through child-care centres, aged-care facilities and hospitals. If your family is suffering through an outbreak of vomiting and diarrhoea, then it’s likely you’ve all got the same viral infection.

Viral pathogen Incubation period Average illness duration
Norovirus
A highly contagious virus, and the leading cause of acute gastroenteritis worldwide. Norovirus particles can live on surfaces for about three days, and in water for two weeks; and are resistant to many cleaning products.
18-48 hours 24-48 hours
Rotavirus
A common cause of vomiting and diarrhoea, especially in young infants and children.
< 48 hours Up to 5 days

 

Then there are bacterial infections like E.coli and salmonella. Think of these as food poisoning – they are usually isolated to one unfortunate person. Just as nasty, but not likely to spread.

Bacterial pathogen Incubation period Average illness duration
Escherichia coli
E.coli is a common bacterial infection found in contaminated water or foods like raw vegetables and undercooked ground beef.
12 hours to 3 days 1 week
Salmonella spp.
A major public health problem in the developing world, transmitted by the ingestion of contaminated food. Salmonella particles can survive at -20C!
24-48 hours (up to 72 hours) Days to weeks depending on amount ingested
Shigella spp.
A bacterial infection that can cause severe vomiting and diarrhoea.
1-3 days 3 days
Campylobacter jejuni
A major cause of food poisoning in Australia.
1-7 days 1-7 days
Giardia duodenalis
Giardiasis is an infection in the bowel caused by a parasite. It is common amongst travellers to underdeveloped countries like Bali and India.
12-15 days Weeks to months

 

Some other conditions can cause vomiting and diarrhoea. Morning sickness, some medications and other stomach conditions can trigger an outbreak, leaving you feeling very depleted and dehydrated.

How to prevent the spread of viral infections

If one of your family members have been struck down with an infection that causes vomiting or diarrhoea. You should:

  • Wash your hands in soapy water after nappy changes and going to the toilet, and before food preparation or eating
  • Try to cover vomit (close the toilet lid immediately) to avoid the airborne spread of particles
  • Clean contaminated surfaces with detergent, warm water and bleach
  • Avoid vacuuming, as this can spread viral particles

If your child is vomiting or has diarrhoea, keep them home from childcare or school for a minimum of 48 hours, and avoid swimming pools for 14 days after the symptoms stop.

Monitoring your child

If your child is vomiting or has diarrhoea, then it’s very important to keep track of their fluid intake. Children (and the elderly) are more at risk.

It’s recommended that you keep a record of how much fluid your child is taking in, versus how often they are vomiting or going to the toilet. Make these observations every 15 minutes – the information will be useful for your doctor.

Top tip: offer your child the Hydralyte Electrolyte Ice Block to suck on.

Download our Oral Fluid Intake Chart

Rehydrating with Hydralyte

Hydralyte is scientifically formulated to contain the correct balance of glucose and electrolytes for rapid rehydration. The formulation is based on the World Health Organisation criteria for effective rehydration. Water alone, or sugary drinks are not as effective as Hydralyte, as they do not replace electrolytes which are lost during bouts of vomiting and diarrhoea

Dosage

Age in years Electrolyte powder and Electrolyte solution Effervescent Electrolyte Tablets (recommended dose in first 6 hours)
Under 12 months 100mL / 90 mins 200-400mL
1-3 years 100mL / 90 mins 400-600mL
3-6 years 100mL / 60 mins 600-900mL
7-12 years 100mL / 30 mins 900-1500mL
Over 12 years 200mL / 30 mins 1200-2000mL

 

Continue to use Hydralyte while vomiting and/or diarrhoea persist and while symptoms of dehydration are present.

When can you eat food again?

Once you or your child is able to keep down significant fluids, you can gradually reintroduce solid foods. Avoid sweet, fatty and spicy foods – instead, try things like rice, potatoes, bread, cooked cereals and dry biscuits.

Warning

Seek medical advice if vomiting or diarrhoea persists for more than:

  • 6 hours in infants under 6 months
  • 12 hours in children under 3 years
  • 24 hours in children aged 3-6 years
  • 48 hours in children over 6 years and adults

There are a number of causes of dehydration when travelling. Including travellers diarrhoea, dehydration due to long-haul plane flights, travelling often involves hotter weather, more active days and a little more alcohol – all common triggers for becoming dehydrated.

If you’re about to travel somewhere new, then make sure you’re aware of the dehydration risks, and pack plenty of oral rehydration solutions like Hydralyte.

Be Prepared when travelling with Hydralyte

Dehydration on long-haul plane trips

When you’re stuck inside a pressurised aeroplane cabin for a long time, you can easily get dehydrated. Humidity inside planes is as low as between 12-21% versus a comfortable humidity of 60-70%, and cause you to become dehydrated if enough fluids (non-alcoholic) are not consumed.
Sip on a Hydralyte, drink plenty of water and avoid dehydrating beverages like alcohol, tea and coffee. Moisturise your skin and use eye drops if you need to.

Did you know that keeping well hydrated during the flight can also help to minimise the effects of jetlag? While staying well hydrated isn’t a cure for jetlag, it can certainly help you feel better when you land.

Dehydration from travellers’ diarrhoea

The number one health complaint from travellers to less developed countries is travellers’ diarrhoea. Bali Belly, Delhi Belly, Rangoon Runs … call it what you like, travellers’ diarrhoea is nasty, with the loose bowel motions often accompanied by nausea, vomiting, stomach pain and fever.

The World Health Organisation identifies dehydration as the most severe threat caused by travellers’ diarrhoea. Thus, the most important thing to do if you are struck down is to rehydrate to replace lost fluids and electrolytes. Hydralyte is ideal for this purpose, and as such it is recommended that all travellers to less developed countries carry an oral rehydration solution like Hydralyte.

Other risks of dehydration when travelling

As well as long-haul flights and travellers’ diarrhoea, travelling throws up a range of other ways that you can become dehydrated. For example, you might be heading to a very hot destination and you sweat a lot more than usual. Or you may be heading off on a strenuous hike.

Your rehydration travel pack

If you’ve got a holiday coming up, then pack smart. Include Hydralyte in your first aid kit as a mandatory – and then pack enough in your suitcase to cover your entire family, just in case.