Should I Go to Urgent Care or the ER for Dehydration?

The hand and forearm of a woman lying in a bed are visible. She has an IV in place, and a nurse is holding her hand.


Dehydration results from your body losing water or not replacing it and being unable to function normally. It can have a variety of causes and ranges from mild to severe. You may be able to treat dehydration at home, but sometimes, going to urgent care is essential. With severe dehydration, a trip to an ER is best. We will discuss dehydration and how to determine where to seek treatment.

Symptoms of Dehydration

Symptoms of mild or moderate dehydration may include dry mouth, fatigue, headache, or muscle cramps. Signs and symptoms of more severe dehydration include having a rapid heart rate, urinating dark urine or little urine, running a fever, feeling confused, experiencing seizures, and having loose skin or sunken eyes.

Causes of Dehydration

Dehydration can be the result of not drinking enough fluids after exercising. It can also be caused by ongoing vomiting or diarrhea when you are sick or have food poisoning. Vomiting can accompany migraines, headaches, or pregnancy. When your body loses more water than you can replace, dehydration results. Vomiting or diarrhea that lasts more than a few days can cause significant dehydration. Children and older adults are particularly susceptible to dehydration, which can occur more quickly.

Preventing Dehydration

If you are exercising or outside in hot weather, drink liquids often and rest if you feel weak or woozy. If you are sick and suffering from vomiting or diarrhea, drinking Pedialyte, broth, or a sports drink can be helpful. Vomiting and diarrhea can deplete your body of essential electrolytes, and these fluids can help replace these. Avoiding caffeine is important, as it is a diuretic and causes the loss of more fluids.

Urgent Care or ER for Dehydration

When vomiting or diarrhea persists for a few days, dehydration can become significant. If you or a loved one are experiencing symptoms of dehydration like dry mouth, weakness, fever, or fatigue, going to urgent care is a wise decision. In the case of a child or older adult, you may need to visit even sooner, as dehydration can more quickly become a problem.

When dehydration persists and becomes severe, you may be urinating very infrequently, and it may be very dark. Symptoms like significant confusion, extreme weakness, a rapid heart rate, dizziness when standing, and seizures can occur. In this case, getting to an emergency room is a better choice.

How Does Urgent Care Treat Dehydration?

Your urgent care provider will discuss your symptoms, take vital signs, order lab work, and prescribe treatment. If needed, we will give you an infusion of IV fluids as ordered by your provider. Normal saline or a dextrose and water solution are commonly used to treat dehydration. Your provider will determine the right solution to rehydrate you and replenish important electrolytes.

If you need urgent care for dehydration treatment, come and see us at State Urgent Care.